Book Review: The Legacy – Kristen Tranter

Title: The Legacy
Author: Kristen Tranter
ISBN: 9781439177181
Pages: 448
Release Date: August 10, 2010
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary:

After her friend Ingrid dies in the 9/11 attacks, Julia can’t help but reflect on the origins of their friendship.  A cousin of Julia’s best friend, Ralph, Julia was often jealous of the closeness between Ralph and Ingrid.  But after Ingrid got married and moved away, the three drifted apart.  Now, obsessed with the thought of what happened to Ingrid, Julia travels to New York in order to understand her life there.

Review:

The Legacy is a novel revolving around friendship and obsession.  While Ralph, Ingrid, and Julia are friends right after they meet, Ralph and Julia seem to have an unhealthy fascination with Ingrid.  She has an attractive personality and is the type of person people want to be friends with; it’s understandable why they are both enamored of her.  After her death, they cannot come to terms with her being gone, especially since they drifted apart so much before the terrorist attacks.  It seemed very strange to me how obsessed Julia was with discovering Ingrid’s fate in New York, especially since they didn’t seem all that close in the flashbacks.

The novel is beautifully written, with rich, vivid descriptions and lush prose.  Tranter takes her time with it, unspooling her beautiful writing at every turn.  However, this also means that The Legacy moves forward at its own, slow pace.  There is a mystery here, but it doesn’t develop until fully halfway through the book.  Many readers may find that it moves a bit too slowly, as there isn’t much to keep readers interested over the first half of the book if you aren’t enamored of lovely writing.

Julia was an intriguing character, but I am not sure she was strongly developed enough to carry the narrative in The Legacy.  She seemed petulant and difficult at times, though she was easy to sympathize with.  What makes this book hard to read at times, though, is the complete emotional disconnect.  It’s so thoroughly done that I can’t help but assume that Tranter did it on purpose, but I felt no emotional connection at all to any of the characters or the plot.  It made this a tough read for me at times, as I want to feel for and with the people I read about.

The Legacy is an interesting debut novel that is gorgeously written.  While the slow pace and detachment didn’t work as well for me, I have no doubt that there are readers who will love the sweeping, broad plot and meandering feel of the book as Julia searches for answers.  It made me curious enough such that I’ll definitely be seeking out Tranter’s next novel, and hope it’s a bit more tightly plotted.

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Comments

  1. I read this for a book club and I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy it at all. The end I found incredibly disappointing, it was far too slow and I felt like Tranter was sometimes pointlessly trying to build up tension. THe author actually attended the book club discussion which gave me the chance to better understand her motivations in writing it, but it still didn’t do it for me. It is supposed to be a modern version of Portrait of a Lady by James but I don’t think it was successful in this either.

  2. I read this for a book club and I have to admit that I didn’t enjoy it at all. The end I found incredibly disappointing, it was far too slow and I felt like Tranter was sometimes pointlessly trying to build up tension. THe author actually attended the book club discussion which gave me the chance to better understand her motivations in writing it, but it still didn’t do it for me. It is supposed to be a modern version of Portrait of a Lady by James but I don’t think it was successful in this either.

  3. This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin and the author is being hailed as having great promise, but I agree entirely with both Becky and your review. To see mine, please visit
    http://anzlitlovers.com/2011/07/31/the-legacy-by-kirsten-tranter/
    PS Best wishes and happy reading for 2012!

  4. This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin and the author is being hailed as having great promise, but I agree entirely with both Becky and your review. To see mine, please visit
    http://anzlitlovers.com/2011/07/31/the-legacy-by-kirsten-tranter/
    PS Best wishes and happy reading for 2012!

  5. Oh no, how disappointing. The plot sounds really good. I’m always interested in novels about 9/11 though. I’m going to keep checking out the other reviews in hopes that I’ll find someone who loves it so I can justify spending the time to read it LOL

  6. Oh no, how disappointing. The plot sounds really good. I’m always interested in novels about 9/11 though. I’m going to keep checking out the other reviews in hopes that I’ll find someone who loves it so I can justify spending the time to read it LOL

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