Happy Monday, readers! Today I'm a stop on the TLC book tour for Kemper Donovan's The Decent Proposal.
Richard is a Hollywood producer struggling to make it in a tough industry. Elizabeth is a lawyer whose life revolves around work. Neither of them knows the other, but that's all about to change.
An anonymous benefactor is willing to pay Richard and Elizabeth half a million dollars each if they are willing to spend two hours together each week for the duration of one year. Nothing is required beyond that - this is a "decent proposal" as Richard dubs it - and they can spend the two hours as they like as long as they spend the two hours together talking. It's a strange request, one that baffles the two, but eventually they agree. After all, who couldn't use half a million dollars? But considering the two are as opposite as two people can get, will they even be able to stand each other long enough to collect their cash?
I was looking forward to a goofy and fun head in Kember Donovan's debut. But as Richard and Elizabeth mix as well as oil and water when they meet, so too was the situation between me and this book.
I found it hard to get drawn into the story. Neither Richard or Elizabeth really appealed to me as characters. Maybe Richard more so than Elizabeth, but still not enough for me to be truly invested in his story.
Elizabeth is a snob. One with a little bit of a chip on her shoulder. And while we do find out why and she does eventually begin to warm to Richard, her internal judgement still rankled. Richard is only marginally better when we meet him. He's a playboy, which is fine (and is one of the key things Elizabeth judges him on in the beginning) and a bachelor with typical bachelor habits (another thing Elizabeth hates) but he's a bit shallow. And yes, those elements and growth are part of the characters' journeys. Unfortunately, if I were to meet either of them out I'd probably not look forward to hanging with them again. Before or after.
And that's what you usually want with a book - or at least with this kind. Characters you want to hang and be friends with. (Though they did win me over briefly when they both agreed Jane Eyre was the way to go and Wide Sargasso Sea was not to either of their liking!)
Part of the problem is that Donovan doesn't seem to ever really round these characters out much. We get plenty of their internal thoughts and even those of their friends, but they seem to be surface material only: minimal and without much depth.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. For more on Kemper Donovan and his work you can follow him on Twitter.
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble