Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Unbecoming - Rebecca Scherm - Review AND Giveaway

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.


skkorman said...

Sounds like a good read—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of this book!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Susan said...

Unreliable narrators can be annoying, but interesting, too. I'd love to give this book a try. Thanks!


Kay said...

OK, so am I crazy or are the unreliable narrators the new trend now? Seems so to me. I'm kind of on the fence about this one. Not sure if I want to read another unlikeable protagonist.

traveler said...

A unique and intriguing book. Thanks for this chance. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

petite said...

Sounds like a great book. Many thanks. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

holdenj said...

I agree, unreliable narrators seem to be a trend in 2015! Looks like a good book, thanks for the info and chance to win.

Margie said...

Sounds like an intriguing book. Thanks for the review and the giveaway.

Marjorie/cenya2 said...

A really good storyline sounds like a good read.

cenya2 at Hotmail dot com

Carl Scott said...

I can't help thinking there's another potentially great movie here. The settings and the story outline are enough to make me buy a ticket already. Hollywood better catch up.

Mary Jo Burke said...

Eye catching cover!


KAS said...

Hi Luanne, this seems like a fascinating, multi-faceted psychological novel that has me licking my mental chops in anticipation of reading it! Thanks for your insight; in this succinct review, you were able to give me a distinct impression about certain elements of this novel. Thanks also for the giveaway, and count me in!
shamy at post dot harvard dot edu

Cheers, Kara S

Grandma Cootie said...

Sometimes an unlikable character can really draw you into a story and keep you interested. This sounds like a good read. Thanks.

Maureen said...

Grace sounds like a fascinating character.
mce1011 AT aol DOT com

techeditor said...

I am anxious to read this

Anita Yancey said...

I find the book very interesting, and the fact that Grace has the ability to change who she is. I would love to read it. Thanks for having the giveaway.

Julie said...

Sounds like a good one!