Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: The Perfect Love Song


The Perfect Love Song by Patti Callahan Henry
2 stars


Reason for reading: Okra Picks Challenge

Description: "Jimmy Sullivan has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and his band The Unknown Souls. Without a place to call home, Jimmy and Jack lead a nomadic life filled with music and anonymous cities. When they return to a place Jimmy never wants to see again—their old hometown of Seaboro, South Carolina—he falls in love with Charlotte Carrington.

With his soul now filled with hope, Jimmy writes his first love song. When he performs it at a holiday concert to a standing ovation, the lyrics are dubbed the “Perfect Love Song,” so much so that Jimmy finds himself going on tour with famous country music stars, catapulted into a world where the trappings of fame and fortune reign supreme.

All too soon, the hope that had once inspired Jimmy to write such beautiful, genuine lyrics is overshadowed by what the song can do for him and his career. In his thirst for recognition, he agrees to miss Jack’s wedding in Ireland to sing at a Christmas Eve concert. And his ties to Charlotte seem to be ever so quickly slipping away.

Alone in New York City on Christmas Eve, Jimmy finally sees—with the help of a Christmas miracle or two—that his material gains are nothing compared to love, that he is losing all that really matters in his life. Is it too late to find his way to Ireland, to his brother, and to love?"

My thoughts: I agree with this review from Publisher's Weekly "This wallows in the pitfalls of intrusive narration, simplistic storytelling, and overly moralistic asides, and is stocked with characters with all the staying power of a snowflake in July."

This just didn't work for me at all. I felt like I'd missed getting to know the characters and their background somehow and I wasn't surprised to find out in the notes at the end that they were featured in one of the author's other books. Maybe if you'd gotten to know and love them there this book would be fun, but for me it wasn't. Why Kara was so devoted to Maeve Mahoney that she basically dedicates her wedding to the old woman wasn't very clear (presumably it was featured largely in the other book, but it's only mentioned in passing here), the narrator (who I guess is the ghost of Maeve?) is definitely intrusive and there are all kinds of sappy aphorisms throughout. Jimmy is a jerk. It has all of the bad stuff about Christmas movies - sappiness, "Christmas miracles" and someone's bad attitude being transformed on Christmas Eve. Definitely a Christmas turkey.