Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review: In the Red: A Novel by Elena Mauli Shapiro

In the Red: A Novel 

Elena Mauli Shapiro 
Pub September 16th 2014 
by Little, Brown and Company 
ARC for Review 

A darkly erotic novel about a good girl gone bad.

When Irina--Romanian by birth but brought up by American parents who have never understood her-arrives at college she quickly abandons ordinary student life for an affair with an older, mysterious Romanian man named Andrei.

Andrei awakens a powerful sensuality in Irina. And he has money - lots of it. For the first time, Irina feels free. But the longer she stays with Andrei, the more she is certain that she can't leave, and that may be complicit in Andrei's work - whatever that "work" might be. Then an unexpected friendship with a young Russian bride opens the door to escape, and also revenge.

A tantalizing, edgy exploration of women and love, power and money-interwoven with potent, unusual, and nervy Romanian fairy tales-In the Red asks what the legacy of love is, and who will be left unscathed.

A Tale of Fairy Tales, a Warlord, Bad Men and an Empty Girl 

Oh man oh man talk about depressing…Yeesh! This is a dark one with no hope in sight. Definitely different than anything I’ve ever read but it just wasn’t for me. I still love hello kitty for crying out loud. There is a certain beauty to this tragically sad story so that is what kept me reading. I could not see any happiness in sight and though that is the way of the real world most of the time…for me…when given the choice…I’d much rather read fiction that is contrary to real life. I’m a sucker for happy endings through and through. Overcoming adversary, obtaining the unobtainable, learning something, character development, and problem solution are very important to what makes a good story to me. One of my favorite authors once said she adores novels with happy endings, because there are enough unhappy endings in real life. I can’t agree more.

None of the characters appealed to me in the least. I could not relate to any of them. Though I felt for them and their situations I could not get past their actions…The leader of the bad men was absolutely vile and had zero redeeming qualities he was disgusting in every way. His two henchmen one of which was Irina’s love interest, the other was just another bad man that did bad things. Andrei is as deplorable as they come, I think he did love Irina but can anyone love another soul that has let their own become tar? His co-henchman never pretended to be much more than the horrible person he was. Let’s talk about Elena(mail order bride) she was perhaps the character that made me feel most for her. Given her situation she did the best she could and fought for a way out. Irina(the empty girl) did not she got caught up with these awful people all the while snubbing her nose at all the wonderful opportunities laid at her feet. I felt nothing but an all encompassing void coming from her it felt like she gave up on life before hers even began.

This book takes place in the present and the past with fairy tales and the story of a warlord in between. I can’t say that I understood the purpose in doing this but again as a reader it is hard to find the true purpose behind others literature. I can say that while I did not enjoy the events within this novel I could see myself having a lengthy discussion on some deeper themes but those days are behind me so I don’t visit with friends in coffee shops to talk about a deeper meaning to obvious words on a page. These days you can find me doing “working mom” stuff so you can imagine why I would want to curl up from 9pm-3am with a book that promises fuzzy feelings.

The ending. Boy oh boy okay so I mentioned before there was no happiness in sight? Irina finds herself at a new crossroad surrounded by more emptiness. So…from the first page to the last page our protagonist( if you could call her that)…Makes ZERO development as in zilch nada zip! She made several mistakes and does not wish to do anything about it just another empty zombie walking around. I wish someone would shake her so she could find some beauty in life some miniscule happiness someone get this girl a puppy STAT! Oh well this read is NOT recommended for people that like the things I mentioned earlier but if you’re looking for a dreary, dreary, read where the only person who appreciates life and has any sense of morals is a drugged and drunk mail order bride…then look no further this is the one! Get to the store and pick this up today!!

My Rating
3.0 Afraid of Red, Adoption, Mute, Intelligent, Wonderful School, Andrei, Sex Clubs, Drugs, Chop Shop, Mail Order, Money, Fake Passport, Shopping, Scalpel, Butcher, Termination, Dissolution, Escape, Bank, Friend, 21012, Travel, Parents, Still stuck in a miserable void filled stars!

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About The Author

I was born in Paris, France, and moved to the United States at the age of 13. I’ve amassed several degrees in literature and writing around the San Francisco Bay Area (Stanford University, Mills College, UC Davis), where I still live with one scientist husband and two elderly half-Siamese cats who spend all day following sunbeams around the house. I am the author of two novels, 13 RUE THERESE and IN THE RED, both from Little, Brown. My short fiction has appeared in Zyzzyva, Five Chapters, The Farallon Review. 


twitter username elenamshapiro 


1 comment:

  1. I agree with you and your author friend. I see too much depressing no happy in the real world. I don't need it in my fiction. As a matter of fact, finding the happy is why I hang out in fiction. I need it.


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