“I didn’t get my money.”
“I know. I didn’t send it.”
“Are you playing games with me?” she asked angrily. “I thought you wanted to help me!”
“I do. How does $ 5000 sound?”
Kate repeated the number, then silence.
“Are you still there?” Samuel asked.
“Yeah… What do I have to do? Marry you?
– Gables Court (Locations 10335-10348)
From Amazon: Age 24, Samuel Baas is a romantic and virgin who wants love and marriage before sex. After moving from staid New England to the hothouse world of Miami, he falls in love with Kate, the college girl he wants to marry. She isn’t interested in becoming anyone’s little wife. For her, sex is recreational.
A lawyer, Bass represents an accused Nazi war criminal and Haitians who, if deported, face retribution from the murderous Tonton Macoute. Head of a crime family, his father takes a special interest in his son’s legal career. In this complicated world, Baas dates and tries to answer the central question in his life,
“Is love for someone else?”
Loneliness isn’t gender specific nor is alienation just a phase.
Over a span of ten years, Samuel Bass journeys toward intimacy—and his people.
The writing in this book is difficult to describe. It’s a third person narrative, involving many characters over the course of several years of the protagonist’s life. Generally speaking, there were a few minor spelling, grammatical and syntax errors but on the whole, it was fine. The biggest problem that I have with the writing is the overuse of exclamation points in direct speech, as demonstrated in the excerpts below:
And I’ll be making sales calls. Saturday mornings are the perfect time! After a few weeks I’ll have enough moola to buy my own car! Something sharp! A convertible!” He kept walking and talking. “This is perfect for me! I have the personality! I played football in high school and of course the girls liked that, but I was always popular! Even though I lived in the rundown part of town everyone came to my house to party! Benny and Wolfman got to hang out with the cool kids! I’m a natural born salesman! And the best part? Stallion is great! It will sell itself! I’ll be rich!” (Locations 1104-1113)
“That’s what I like to hear! Don’t get tied down! Be a player! The college is full of hot chicks! You and me, buddy! A lawyer and a millionaire! We’ll have our pick!” (Locations 1551-1555)
This is rather jarring to read, when it goes on for several pages. Further, the author hardly employs any adverbs. And herein lies the problem. The exclamations points could have been reduced through rich and complex narration, and the use of adverbs to be better showcase and enhance the individual characters in this story. There were moments of fabulous writing as well. Here is a scene with a young client that Samuel is representing, that I loved. He’s a 17 year old who is well older than his time and he comes across as such:
“No one is 17 who sees his father beaten, then hanged for not paying the Tonton Macoute their civil donation. No one is still a boy who watches his mother dragged away because she tried to cut down her husband’s body. The Macoute firebombed our little store, then came looking for me. How can I be young when I had to run and at night float out to sea on inner tubes?” (Locations 7745-7748)
Had more of the writing been like this, I think that I might have grown to like Samuel, and it might have better illustrated his development over the course of the book. The manner in with the protagonist is currently written makes him unrelatable, almost juvenile, and whiny. He’s a bit of a selfish brat, and I really don’t think that this was the author’s intent. The character is socially awkward, and at times this is cringe worthy but not inaccurate of some people in social settings. I just found myself constantly annoyed that regardless of how he seemed to have grown and developed during the course of the story, he was still so stuck on Kate and measured all others against her. It became tiresome and tedious.
I struggled with this book. I found it difficult to really get stuck into the story. This was partly due to the over-abundance of exclamation points, and lack of adverbs. Mostly, I found it impossible to relate to any of the characters or, at times, even like them. Samuel undergoes some overall development over the course of this three part tale but generally, due to the writing style, he seems rather vacuous. It was almost impossible to see the character as a fully fledged person. He came across as more of a persona or caricature of a character.
As harsh as this may sounds, I think that the author needs to have a different editor look at this, and help him breath some life into it, using the final third of the book as a template. The rest of the book is dry and limp, unfortunately. The truly sad thing is that I really enjoyed the stylisation of the period, with the use of clothing, slang and other era specific items. The language, clothing and ideologies felt very authentic and relevant for the time, which they author was able to capture beautifully. The dialogue, character creation, and general narrative was sorely lacking.
I want to like this story, I really do but I can’t in its currently form. This think that the message is important. We all need to be true to who we are, we need to hold our values close and sometimes make the wrong wrong decision for the right reasons, and when it comes to love, romance and relationships, it isn’t ONLY about a spark or hot sex, it’s about a connection and intimacy that surpasses those physical aspects. That was the theme I got most from this story. Samuel has a desperate need to make a connection. He was an isolated child, and sidelined as an adult. Many of us share this story, which I would like to see a revised edition of this one.
My rating: 3/5
Gables Court is available on Amazon.
This review was requested by the author.