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Book Review: Promises of Love and Good Behavior by Roderick Craig Low

September 17, 2013

Don't forget to keep an eye out on all the fun blog hop stops for Elements of a Broken Mind! In the mean time, here is one of the Book Reviews that you missed while I was swamped!


 Genre: Drama.. Existential Drama, if we can make that a category.


Synopsis: A man reflects, along with his wife and with his lover, on the affair that ruined their marriage. James fell madly in love with Jude, for her wild "Northern way". Jude found James tolerable, but he was willing to give her the stability she craved, and agreed to an open marriage just as all their friends were having. Her sexual appetites met, Jude was happy.


But the one time James decides to take advantage of their open marriage, he falls madly in love with a young employee of his company, working in Czechoslovakia. He tells of how he planned to leave his wife to be with the lovely Anezka, and why it did not work out.


An interesting and twisted tale told in an elegant and surreal manner, reflecting the age-old drama of infidelity in a new and different light.




The Good

Generally, I am not a fan of drama's, especially those that involve infidelity. Blame my dad, and the misery he put my mom through, but I am never sympathetic for those who are involved in the affair! And yet, in this book I am very sympathetic for James. Caught in a marriage where his wife seems to look down on him for his sentimentalist behaviors, and forces him into an "open marriage" to satiate her own sexual desires. But the one affair he has in this open marriage, he is unable to separate the deed with his feelings.


And the unique and artistically elegant manner in which the background of the story plays out left me curious, enticed, and aesthetically pleased enough to bypass the mundane topic matter. (Yeah, yeah, I know, what is wrong with me that I cannot enjoy most fiction that takes place in our modern day and age?!)


Characters are on a stage and a chessboard, and the format left me wondering if there wasn't another story in there to be revealed at the end. Alas, I cannot say more, lest I give something away.


The Bad

The part that entertained me the most (the creative backdrop in which the author tells the story) is a little off-putting for those expecting a traditional drama... which this book is pitched as, for all intents and purposes. 

And (this is probably just me, but) There is not a significant difference in many ways between Anezka and Jude, save about 15 years.  She seems to laugh at James, because he is so sentimental. (though a bit more kindly than his wife, but she hasn't been with him as long, either!) His fascination with her seems just as... hmmm... shallow, for lack of a better word. it is all about her beauty.


The Ugly

Perhaps this says more about me, but the beautiful backdrop to which the story is told *Spoiler alert* is nothing more than that. I wanted to see that become some sort of sci-fi, or near-death aspect, but it was never explained. Also, though I appreciate the author's painting each character in ways in which the reader interprets (and has the ability to interpret) all of them as "just human" neither good, nor bad. Showing how each played their part in the affair, in the unwise choices that were made. And it is for these aspects that I generally don't like reading dramas.



Overall: I probably won't read this book again, but the author managed to take a drama and paint it in such a manner that picky old me actually was drawn forward. The last drama I read was a Piccoult novel and took me almost two weeks. This one I devoured in a matter of three days. The author has a dystopian novel that I am really looking forward to reading in the very near future!



Until next time,

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