Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review: Almost Home

Book cover
Title: Almost Home
Author: Pam Jenoff
Genre: Fiction, Suspense, Mystery
Pub Date: February 2009, Atria Books
Hardcover, 374 pages
Book Source: Received my copy from the publisher via Pam Jenoff, many thanks for sending this for review!


From bestselling author and Quill award nominee Pam Jenoff comes a rich, ambitious, and startling novel about a woman who must face a past she'd rater forget in order to uncover a dangerous legacy that threatens her future.

Ten years ago, American Jordan Weiss's idyllic experience as a graduate student and coxswain at Cambridge was shattered when her boyfriend and fellow crewmember, Jared Short, drowned in the River Cam the night before the biggest race of the year. Since that time, Jordan, a State Department intelligence officer, has traveled the world on dangerous assignments but has managed to avoid returning to face her painful memories in England. When her terminally ill friend Sarah asks her to come to London, though, Jordan finds herself requesting a transfer to the one place she swore she'd never go again.

In London, Jordan attempts to settle into her new life, pushing aside her haunting memories and taking on an urgent mission beside rakish agent Sebastian Hodges. Shortly after her arrival, just when she thinks there's hope for a fresh start in England, she is approached by a former college classmate who makes a startling assertion. He tells her that Jared's death was not an accident, but that he was murdered.

Jordan quickly learns that Jared's death was indeed not an accident, and that his research on World War II had uncovered a shameful secret. But powerful forces with everything to lose will stop at nothing to keep the past buried. Soon, Jordan finds herself in grave peril as she struggles to find the answers that lie treacherously close to home, the truth that threatens to change her life forever, and the love that makes in all worth fighting for.

My Thoughts

Before talking about the story itself, I would like to note that Almost Home was released today in paperback for the first time, so this review is in celebration of that event. Again, many thanks to Ms. Jenoff for contacting me regarding this book and for having one sent for review. Ms. Jenoff also graciously agreed to guest post here at Melissa's Bookshelf, and you will be able to read her post about Covers and Titles later this week on Friday!

But back to the story... Almost Home is a beautifully written, highly suspenseful piece of work. I will admit that when I started reading and discovered the story is told in the first person present tense, I cringed, because of how hit-or-miss that point of view can be for me. However, this book is so well-written and edited so well that I never thought about the point of view after that first page. Interestingly, while the entire book is paced pretty quickly and the story moves at a good clip, many of the twists and turns (and bombshells) occur in the last few chapters of the novel. {So you can imagine my chagrin and disappointment when I realized I'd left it at work yesterday with about a quarter of the book left to read.}

My only complaint about this novel is that Jordan Weiss did not seem very believable as a diplomat. Her tendency to run away from tough situations and inability to separate her personal life from work just did not seem to make her a realistic member of the State Department, in my opinion. She just didn't seem tough enough for the line of work she was supposedly in. While there could have been more character development in some cases, for the most part I thought that Jenoff painted them very descriptively and was able to build upon some of the key characters in the occasional flashback scenes in the story. Some other key characters, however, did not get to benefit from those opportunities and fell a little flat for me.

But I certainly cannot complain about the way the story unfolded--particularly towards the end. The connections that were made between storylines, while perhaps a little far-fetched, proved for a fascinating conclusion. My only wish now is that I knew what was going to happen beyond the end of the story. Overall it was a great, fast read that I think other suspense and mystery lovers would enjoy.

My rating: 4 stars

Other reviews of Almost Home:

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  1. I really enjoyed this, too! Great review. I remember having the same thought about Jordan's running away from stuff - being more scared than I would expect in her line of work - but forgot about it by the time I finished the book. Guess I should take notes!

  2. Thanks for the honest review. I'll be reading and reviewing this one soon. I'm really looking forward to it, as I loved Jenoff's other two books.

    I hope it's okay to link to your review on War Through the Generations.

    Diary of an Eccentric


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