Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: The Storm at the Door

The Storm at the DoorThe Storm at the Door by Stefan Merrill Block

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The story of Katherine and Frederick, the main characters whom the author based on his grandparents, is interesting, but more mysterious than it should be as the centerpiece of the novel. There is a lot of foreshadowing and secret-keeping which gets tedious.

I also found the narrator to be problematic. The story is set up in the first chapter as being told by Katherine & Frederick's grandson. At various points in the novel the voice of the grandson pops in very clearly to provide analysis. The bulk of the story though is written with a 3rd person omniscient narrator (with a rather purple vocabulary). How is the grandson able to know what is in the minds of all these secret-keepers? Especially the ones who are fellow patients at his grandfather's mental hospital?

The part of this book I found most compelling was the story of another of these patients: Professor Schultz. The poet Robert Lowell is also a patient at the hospital and his involvement in the lives of the characters adds to the story, both as incite through his poems and as a mover of the plot.

I would have liked to see more from the point of view of Rita, who works at the hospital. Despite the fact that there is no way for the grandson to know anything about what Rita thought, we get some glimpses into her mind. Her perspective might have added a greater depth to the story.

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