Review: Putting Alice Back Together by Carol Marinelli

@ Goodreads

Title: Putting Alice Back Together

Author: Carol Marinelli

Published: Mira March 2012

Synopsis: There’s only so much sex, valium and red wine you can take to paper over the cracks… Alice Lydia Jameson is the friend you wish you had. The girl who makes a party more fun, pulls a funny face to make you feel better, drinks wine out of a mug and makes you laugh while you’re crying over an ex. Alice is totally happy, everything is amazing, and there is nothing at all to worry about… except, well: Her job was really great 10 years ago; The sexiest guy alive doesn’t want her…because he’s gay; Her credit card bills are mounting up… But maybe the biggest problem for Alice is that she has a secret. A secret so big she can’t tell anyone…but how do you keep a secret like that when everything is starting to fall apart? And once it’s out there, how do you ever begin to put yourself back together again?

Status: Read from March 09 to 10, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Harlequin Australia}

My Thoughts:

Putting Alice Together Again is Carol Marinelli’s first contemporary women’s fiction title after publishing more than a dozen traditional romance titles with Harlequin. While there is a small thread of romance in this novel, Putting Alice Together Again is something very different altogether. Alice is certain that no one can guess at the secrets she hides, a bright smile and sleek hair style helps her pretend everything is okay, yet cracks are beginning to appear in Alice’s brittle veneer. Her buried memories of the past are pushing their way to the surface and Alice is plagued by anxiety attacks, self medicating with alcohol and Valium and sabotaging her career and relationships. With her life rapidly spiraling out of control, Alice is coming apart and she is not sure she will ever be able to pick up the pieces.

What first strikes you about Alice in the opening chapters of the novel is her repressed anger, shame and bitterness. Seething at the casual remarks of her friend and lover in reaction to a news item, bitter at being required to rescue Nicole’s birthday party, ashamed of a brief sexual encounter in the restaurant bathroom with a man she barely knows, she is warped by thinly veiled contempt aimed at both herself and everyone around her. Despite such a an inauspicious introduction, as Alice’s story unfolded I found her an intriguing character for not only her many flaws but also the glimmer of vulnerability and pain that Marinelli reveals by alternating between Alice’s past and her present. Alice is the central figure so its essential the reader finds some sort of rapport with her. It’s not always easy though, she tends to wallow in self pity and is quite self centered. I’m not sure I ever really liked her much but as the link between Alice’s painful history and her current issues becomes more apparent, Alice slowly earned my sympathy and understanding.
Given that Alice is written in the first person, Marinelli finds a good balance between the internal dialogue of her character and the external interaction with other characters, to use a trite phrase, she shows rather than tells which provides a breather from Alice’s intensity.
Alice’s secret, when it becomes clear is shocking, despite being foreshadowed, and I admired Marinelli’s skill in drawing out the tension to the reveal that coincides with Alice’s present day crisis. It is a dark novel, thick with emotion and drama, and can feel a little oppressive. Evan as Alice begins to put her self back together, any optimism is muted.
in Putting Alice Back Together the author explores a number of themes such as post traumatic shock, grief, denial and addiction but perhaps the most uplifting is her examination of friendship. Alice and Ros are friends but each hold back part of them selves stunting their closeness, through the course of the novel they learn the value of trust by revealing their vulnerabilities. The author also explores the importance of this intimate connection in romantic relationships by introducing Hugh who is willing to call Alice out on the things she is trying to hide.

Putting Alice Back Together is not a light read, it is too full of fraught emotion and angst to dismiss easily. It is certainly capable of holding the readers interest though as an intriguing exploration of a very flawed and realistic character.

Available To Purchase

Australia: @Harlequin Australia I @ Boomerang Books I @Booktopia

International: @Amazon I @BookDepository

I am happy to be welcoming Carol Marinelli to Book’d Out as a participant in my AWW Feature, make sure you check back for her guest post.

Alternate  cover

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. laurelrainsnow
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 00:19:17

    This sounds like the kind of book I relish…perhaps partially due to the kind of work I did for many years.

    I’m adding this one to my list!

    Like

    Reply

    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Mar 21, 2012 @ 00:23:40

      The good news too Laurel is that you can get it (almost) wherever you live since it has been published earlier this month in the US, UK and Australian markets almost simultaneously – rare for an Australian book/author

      Like

      Reply

  2. Marg
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 09:15:55

    I read this last week, and need to hurry up and review it. Whilst I connected with a few of Alice’s behaviours I really didn’t connect with her as such and therefore struggled with it a bit more than you did I think.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Mari Partyka
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 10:17:01

    Another book for me to add to my list! I love a complicated family drama story that can happen.

    Like

    Reply

  4. Denise Imwold
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 13:38:52

    Brilliant review, Shelleyrae!

    Like

    Reply

  5. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Mar 21, 2012 @ 19:44:17

    Another revealing, honest review from Shelleyrae that leaves the reader with a clear idea of the book’s content and flavour.

    Like

    Reply

  6. reflectionsofabookaholic
    Mar 23, 2012 @ 15:21:55

    realistic characters are my favorite types. This sounds like a complex read. I’ll definitely keep it in mind for the right mood.

    Like

    Reply

  7. Julie @ Knitting and Sundries
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 05:43:16

    I’m not one of those that feel that I necessarily have to like a character to enjoy their story. This one sounds like one that gets better as you go along. Thanks for the review!

    Like

    Reply

  8. Trackback: Contemporary, Popular, Mainstream, Women’s Fiction: 2102 Tally | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog
  9. Trackback: Six Degrees of Separation: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland to Putting Alice Back Together | book'd out

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