Edie Pritchard is meant to be a character that people will invest in. Each section of the book follows a different portion of her adult life living in Montana. We’re meant to identify with Edie’s struggles in each of her complicated marriages with even more complicated men. The reader is supposed to envision Edie’s incredible beauty (which is mentioned in nearly every single interaction she has with someone in the book) and want to discover more about her. However, nearly everything about this character rang false to me. It’s fine when I don’t agree with a character’s choices – as long as it sounds realistically like something the character would do, the author has achieved his or her goal. But pretty much every decision Edie makes in the novel feels confusing and pointless.
I have to say that it felt really clear to me that Edie was a character written by a man. Normally, I’m not someone who puts a lot of stock into who the author is when I’m reading a book. But it seemed so evident to me that she was the embodiment of how men think about women (irrational, unable to make sound decisions, never satisfied, and only valued because of her looks) rather than how multifaceted women really are. Because of this falseness, I felt so detached from the whole book and in anything that was happening with Edie.
The novel doesn’t have a lot in terms of plot points, but when it does, these parts of the story feel unrealistic and frustrating. One major relationship in the book is Edie’s connection to her first husband’s twin brother, Roy Linderman. Their interactions are supposed to be filled with chemistry, but I just couldn’t figure out why either of them cared about the other one at all (especially as decades passed). There were several moments in the story where I was sure there would be some high-charged action – but these never developed into anything that made me want to anxiously keep reading. Also, Watson decided to include perspectives from other characters throughout the book – this just continued to distract me and made me think that if the character of Edie was strong enough, he wouldn’t have needed to include irrelevant side stories at all.
And then we come to the ending of the story. There’s absolutely no resolution, leaving the ending of the book as maddening as the character of Edie herself. Overall, Watson does have a beautiful way with words when he’s describing the Montana scenery. But this wasn’t enough for me to feel like I would recommend this to anyone else or read another of his novels in the future.
*Free ARC provided by Algonquin Books in exchange for an honest review*