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Book review: <i>The Stone Angel</i> by Katherine Scholes

the cover of the book

How do you know it's going to turn out exactly as you think it will down to the last painful ellipses? Probably the proud "international bestseller" label, partially covered by the "$2 Kmart" pricetag. Redeeming feature? It was purchased by someone else.

The story

Stella Boyd, who's spent the last fifteen years escaping her past in a constant state of flux and travel around war torn nations as a journalist, gets an unexpected phonecall. Her father, from whom she's been estranged, has disappeared at sea off the coast of Tasmania, and she must return home - a home she has been avoiding since she was sixteen.

Stella returns to her tiny home town, her mother Grace, and her memories. Memories which have to be dealt with so Stella can move on, with her life, and with her family. As Stella slowly comes to terms with her past, she also has to come to terms with her future... and the future of her family. Can she protect the family home, and finally regain the happiness that she lost, so many years ago?

The style

I admit, I was given this book by my mother while visiting, who literally said "Hey, check out how bad this is!". So I may have been a bit jaded at the outset. Although in hindsight, it was thoroughly deserved, it really was. The Stone Angel starts badly - with Stella writing freelance from Africa for some lame women's mag about international crises when any self respecting journo should be writing for National Geographic. Can a woman even have a self respecting job in fiction? What I'm saying is, this crap women's mag business was a blatant attempt to suck the lady readers in. Unwarranted gender stereotyping really.

Secondly, the style, characterisation, storyline, descriptions... you name it, it was utterly predictable and entirely textbook. The story had all the hallmarks of what could be considered good writing (apart from an unforgivable quantity of ellipses), but was utterly devoid of soul. And the storyline was just a bit too predictable. While we all want to gain satisfaction out of a good romance, we also like a bit of twist in there. Something we haven't all guessed from page three. In my humble opinion.

I'm sorry, but overall, I just wasn't a fan. I didn't even feel the flowery descriptions of Tassie did the Tassie coast justice - it was all just too cliched. And while I appreciate Australia's great attitude to supporting and nurturing Aussie authors, sometimes I feel like we should be a bit more discerning. After all, being Australian doesn't make you a great author.

Who is this book for?

People with a maximum of two dollars to spend in Kmart. Or who want to read something utterly predictable for a laugh. Something along those lines...

If you like this book, you would also like...

I can't even begin to imagine. I'm sure there are a multitude of similar books out there on shelves, just desperate to be purchased. I don't intend to read any more of them on purpose though... you're on your own. If you want some good literature about families, read Divine Secrets Of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood or something.

In short

Title: The Stone Angel
Author: Katherine Scholes
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
ISBN: 9780330422857
Year published: 2006
Pages: 362
Genre(s): Modern fiction
Review Type: