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14 Mar 2011

Strange Fits of Passion

Strange fits of passion have I known: And I will dare to tell


26-yr-old Maureen marries a charismatic fellow journalist. Amidst a whirlwind relationship of sex and alcohol, he turns out to be an abusive husband. They have a baby and she escapes to a small seaside town in Maine. A murder occurs. What will be the outcome of the trial?

A journalist is putting together an article about the Maureen English case and so Strange Fits of Passion is told through the journalist's notes and Maureen's own memoir-style letters. It's not a style I warm to easily, but in this journalistic thrust, it worked well enough.

It's a lightly compelling story that I admit had me intrigued. Until the last part. It was all terribly predictable, and rather rushed at the end. I was intrigued because it was nicely told and unfolding steadily, but mostly because I was waiting to be dazzled, shocked, at least a little surprised. It turned out to be a very prosaic story. Nothing already not told many times, and much better.

While the note/letter style worked, it stole a lot of emotion from Maureen's story. I would have been much more interested in the raw and complex emotions, as well as the daily interactions, that passed between her and her husband, than mostly a single-event story.

However, if you're stuck at the airport for a few hours and have only a quick flight, it's not a bad one to pick up to wile away time.
I will try another Shreve one day.


  1. Sorry you did not like this book. I've read all of Shreve's books and it was one of my favorites. Funny how we all like different things - that's what makes blogging so fun.

  2. I've never read any Shreve at all, but i'm tempted, as they always have loads at the library! And i've heard lots of good things...probably won't start with this one,though!

  3. The library would be a great place to grab this author I think. I'll take a look myself when I visit England again.