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If you absolutely love Jodi, you'll, 'err well, quite like this...
on 28 December 2011
Jodi Picoult has decided to lift the bar with `Lone Wolf'. She offers her legions of loyal readers the most substantial, impressively educational and well-researched effort so far. There is often a cute canine in JP's novels but here we have literally packs, of wild and captive wolves, the largest members of the dog family.
The main moral drama/dilemma is broken up by passages, from his wolf book, written by the now comatose Luke; the divorced father of Cara and Edward. Luke was a well-known TV presenter, naturalist and wolf expert. His pages, in italic, are set around time he spent living and interacting with wolf packs. The moral storm continually rages around Luke and his apparently hopeless situation, but through his writings being granted the power of speech; for me, Luke is given more than his share of the dialogue. My heart sank each time I turned a page and found him carrying on, with explanations of wolf hierarchy, pack manners, behaviour and the complicated reasoning behind their untamed characteristics. If I wanted to learn more about wolves I wouldn't really be looking at a book of this kind. Clearly meant to be linked signposts along the way of the main story they served, for me anyway, to interrupt it. Along with this device, the rest of the cast each have their own name at the head of the chapters through which the story is recounted, in parts, rather than seamlessly narrated. Cara, Edward, Georgie (Luke's ex) inhabit Part 1, then in Part 2, happily for Jodi Picoult' s hugely successful but nevertheless standard recipe, Georgie's new husband, Joe, is the inevitable defence lawyer, plus Helen Bedd (!) the temporary guardian appointed by the court... Rather like a tennis ball, the reader is restlessly batted back and forth between this motley, constantly sparring crew.
I found it hard to like the three main protagonists. Luke came across as a man who spent too much time over-enthusiastically living, wallowing even, in the society of fierce wild animals; finding it a more worthy occupation than that of being a well rounded human being. At one point he set off for two years living away from civilisation, emerging to a scene as if from `The Village' at the roadside, of everyday life. He should perhaps never have married or taken on a family. Georgie, his ex-wife is a fragrant lady, now recovering from his uncaring treatment and the harsh break up of their family unit (pack). Daughter Cara, just shy of her majority, is, perhaps understandably, arrogant, stubborn, self centred, spoilt and rude. Her brother Edward has acted decisively in removing himself from the broken family set up that happened at the same time he came out; despite that he still seemed unreal, he is made to act oddly and become unbelievable. I still felt this cross way about them after more than two thirds of the book had gone by although of course I travelled hopefully - there surely would be greater depths to plumb. Tiny hints imply that there will be more to this story than is first apparent, at least relating to the circumstances of the accident, and the rift between Luke and Edward. These turn out to be the fireworks that briefly fizzle Lone Wolf into some kind of life.
Personally I found it to be rather tedious and overwritten. I kept measuring what was left to read and wishing it over. I know that although for me it was just too longwinded - for those who really love her writing the extra weight will surely be appreciated. Reading is subjective and we are all entitled to our opinions. Good or bad. In this case I would say that I have thoroughly read and fairly considered this book, chosen by me through vine, as I had enjoyed others by her before; but I cannot personally, other than 'luke warmly' recommend it...