Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blog Tour/Review: Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White

The Qualities of Wood, by Mary Vensel White
320p, 2014, Mystery
My Rating=4 Stars
Source:Received an advance copy from Authonomy and TLC Book Tours for an honest review

A haunting and beautifully written debut novel by an exciting new talent. When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can't forget the girl, can't ignore the strange behaviour of her neighbours, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart. 'The Qualities of Wood' is a stunning novel from an exciting new writer. Perfect for readers of Anne Tyler and Anita Shreve.

Vivian and Nowell moved to the country to prepare his grandmother's house for sale. Nowell moved ahead of her since he was an author working on his second novel. Vivian arrived as Nowell's brother, Lonnie, was leaving. Soon after her arrival, a 17-year-old girl was found dead in the woods. The death is ruled an accident but as Vivian gets to know her neighbors, she is puzzled by some of their strange behavior. Her husband, Nowell, is also acting strangely and is growing more distant. Lonnie returns and their life becomes more strained. Will she be able to figure out what really happened?

This book moves slowly. For the most part, I was okay with that. I thought there was a lot of character development and I felt like we were given a lot of insight into Vivian and Nowell's lives. I was, however, disappointed with the mystery storyline. It was mentioned from time to time but there wasn't much done to move that storyline forward. The reveal at the end was anti-climatic. I would have liked to have had more answers given along the way, and had a few more loose ends tied up when all was said and done. 

I enjoyed the different characters that were introduced. Katherine drove out to meet her when Vivian had lived there for a week and they became fast friends. There was mystery surrounding some of them--Mrs. Brodie, Mr. Stokes, and the road crew. Nowell, Lonnie and Dot each added tension to the story and there were some interesting family dynamics between all of them. 

I would recommend this to someone looking for a good literary read and Ms. White delivered in the secrets department, but don't read it for the mystery or you will most likely be disappointed. Overall, I enjoyed Ms. White's debut novel and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future!

About Mary Vensel White

Mary Vensel White was born in LA and graduated from the University of Denver. She lived in Chicago for 5 years where she received her MA at DePaul University. Her short fiction has appeared in The Wisconsin Review and Foothilles Literary Journal. This is her first novel.

Find out more about Mary at her website, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Bookstore Events

Live in Southern California? Mary is visiting a bookstore near you!

Tuesday, June 17th at 7pm
Barnes & Noble in Irvine, CA
13712 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92602

Saturday, June 21st at 4pm
Vromans Bookstore in Pasadena, CA
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101

Mary’s Tour Stops

Sunday, May 4th: Read Her Like an Open Book - guest post
Wednesday, May 21st: The Ludic Reader
Thursday, May 22nd: Every Free Chance Book Reviews
Monday, May 26th: Read Her Like an Open Book - review
Monday, May 26th: Read Her Like an Open Book - interview
Tuesday, May 27th: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, May 28th: Sincerely Stacie
Thursday, May 29th: Literary Lindsey
Monday, June 2nd: Books on the Table
Tuesday, June 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, June 10th: Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, June 11th: A Book Geek
Thursday, June 12th: Karen’s Korner
TBD: BooksAreTheNewBlack


Unknown said...

The "moves slowly" kind of scares me...but it sounds like a good one :)

Melanie said...

I'm okay with slow moving books at times--I don't need an adrenalin rush with every book I read. I think you would like it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

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