Well, this didn’t work for me at all.
A one-time theatre professional, Miranda Fitch, is now a college professor and she’s close to losing this job. She is addicted to pain-killers for her chronic back pain. She loathes herself, her students, her life.
She has selected Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well – one of his ‘problem’ plays – for the current production. The majority of the theatre students however were hoping to perform Macbeth and have decided to revolt. The leader of the revolt, the star of this (or any) play … not because she’s so talented, but because her parents make donations to the school … has called for mom and dad to threaten to pull funding if the play isn’t Macbeth.
Everything in Miranda’s life seems to be going against her until some unknown supporter steps in and offers a larger donation to the school’s theatre program and growth if Miranda can do the show she wants to do. With this surprise, life slowly turns around. Not only does her chronic pain go away and she builds on a thrilling sexual relationship with a friend and colleague, but her student nemesis seems to be taking on Miranda’s former issues.
There’s an interesting idea here in this book, and I give an ‘A’ for concept, but author Mona Awad writes the miserable Miranda so well that I took an instant dislike to the character and to the story. Well… I guess it was hard to dislike the story right away because the story didn’t really develop until a third of the way in.
Miranda was miserable and very negative about nearly everything. I didn’t want to spend time with her, so I didn’t want to open the book to read. Sure … something was bound to happen to her, but I really didn’t care. It was a struggle to keep reading through the first half of the book. it gets better, but I don’t think it pays off, ultimately.
The first person narrative felt weird. I understood that this was to help get across Miranda’s take on the events around her, and it was possibly the best way to express her level of pain and misery, but it came across as a YA angst novel. Really, all she does is tell us about her pain. Again, and again, and again.
If there’s a correlation between Awad’s story or Miranda’s plight, and Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, I don’t know what it is. All’s Well is not a well-known work (certainly not well known by me) so how it fits with the scheme and theme of the story, I don’t.
I was really hoping to like this, and it starts to pull up as it reaches the final pages, but the first half sets a tone that it just can’t overcome.
Looking for a good book? All’s Well by Mona Awad is a book about a miserable woman, and it never really establishes itself as anything else.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Mona Awad
publisher: Simon & Schuster
hardcover, 352 pages