I read this book for a newly formed book club that I recently joined. I was excited when they said it had been turned into a Hitchcock film and anticipated exciting suspense throughout the whole novel. The first 250 or so pages left me disappointed with the whining and random made up stories the unnamed main character provides. I was frustrated with her character and the man she marries, Maxim, who snatches this girl half his age to wed and then appears emotionally abusive.
Once they do communicate, it becomes even more frustrating how poor they were at communicating before. But then: a glimmer of hope! Major plot twists and suspense make the rest of the book incredible. It is as though they are two totally separate books within the one, and one is awful and the other is as good as the first half is awful.
I loved the ending. Loved it. A major part of what was so frustrating to me about the main character’s and Maxim’s relationship was that they were on such different levels that their love for each other felt so unrealistic and non-existent. Without spoiling the ending, I felt like it was the only way for them to be happy with one another and also by the end, you really are rooting for them to be happy together.
The main character gains some life and some experience and it’s easy to forgive the character in the beginning who is so weak and frustrating. The book is actually a very interesting coming of age story for the main girl, who somehow manages to become empowered in her own way.
Oh, and the Hitchcock film is worth the watch too. Oh, Laurence Olivier- sigh.
The last 150 pages are so exciting, but everything before that is a struggle. Lots and lots of character development, but nearly a total lack of plot development before the last bit. But the last really is a great classic story and makes reading the whole thing worth it.