Wednesday 23 July 2014

Covet by Tracey Garvis Graves

What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Chris and Claire Canton’s marriage is on life support. Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he’s offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire’s concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can’t weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they’re spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire’s marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn’t take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she’ll never cross.

Tracey Garvis Graves shows us in her second novel that On the Island was no fluke, and she knows how to write a good story about love and relationships. Covet is a quiet examination of suburban life, with a wife who feels lonely enough to make friends with a man who is not her husband.

I particularly liked the different storytelling techniques that were demonstrated here - multiple viewpoints, short chapters, and flashbacks that enabled us to see the relationship between Claire and Chris before they were afflicted by difficult life situations.

What I liked less is that this was a very slight book, considering the interesting characters that moved through Claire's life with their own troubles and subplots. I would have liked more character development - people like Elisa and Julia were paper-thin, presented like sweeping watercolour snapshots rather than carefully inked-in portraits. We were given enough to be intrigued about them, but never enough to be truly drawn in.

In addition to this, Tracey Garvis Graves has an 'and then' style of writing, where everything is described - even a stomach bug suffered by three members of the family where we got to see each vomiting episode. It's too much, and leads to more telling, and less showing.

In conclusion, a read that entertained but didn't ultimately satisfy and will be forgotten within a month or so. Unlike On the Island, which stayed in the mind because of the controversial and provocative subject matter, Covet is a light read that is good for the beach in the summer.

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