Unbecoming is Rebecca Scherm's debut novel.
Unbecoming opens in Paris with our protagonist Grace (known as Julie now) living under the radar, afraid that her past will catch up with her. Her past is her husband Riley and his friend Alls. They committed a robbery back in hometown Garland,Tennessee that Grace planned - and got caught. They're about to be paroled.
Scherm's prose are detailed. Grace's feeling and thoughts are seemingly explored in depth - but are they really? Grace is a work in progress, much like the antiques she lovingly repairs. She changes who she is and how she acts according to her current situation, what she wants or needs. As such, she is a distinctly unreliable narrator.
Schrerm tells her story in past and present narratives from Grace. In the past, we slowly learn about Grace's life up until the moment the time of the robbery. In the present we wait with Grace to see if her past catches up with her.
In addition to being an unreliable narrator, I found Grace to be distinctly unlikable. Is that because I know what has happened and what's underneath the veneer? Perhaps. Her life with Riley and the love they have seems like it should be enough, but again - is it real on Grace's part?
Scherm is also quite detailed about the work Grace does repairing antiques and collectibles. I quite liked the descriptions and specifics as I love to haunt antique shops and flea markets. Grace has a keen eye for valuable things versus forgeries in objects, but does that include hereself?
The 'heist' part of the plot was not as prominent as the publisher's blurb would lead you to believe, but for me, it wasn't the main focus of the book - instead it's more of a character study. I was intrigued by Grace (Julie).
"Grace hated lying, got no joy from it, and this was how she knew she wasn't pathological."
"Grace could only have one friend at a time. Any more and it became harder to keep track of how they knew her, what she had told the, which pieces went where."
I thought the title was very clever. Unbecoming can be taken a number of ways - both as unflattering but also as a change of persona- becoming someone else. Viking has put together a great book club kit with some great 'behind the scenes' articles from Scherm that will give you more insight into this book. You can find Rebecca Scherm on Facebook and on Twitter.
Sound like one you'd like to read? I have a copy of this new release to give away to one lucky reader, courtesy of Viking Books. Open to US and Canada, no PO boxes please. Ends Feb 7/15. Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.