Featured New Release of the Week: Dovetail by Karen McQuestion

This week we’re looking at a tale with a very interesting spin on the classic dual timeline story. This week we’re looking at Dovetail by Karen McQuestion.

Growing up, my dad watched a lot of This Old House with Steve Thomas and Norm Abrams, as well as Abrams’ other show The New Yankee Workshop. Abrams in particular was an old school wood worker, and This Old House routinely featured shows that were even then 80 years old (over a century old today). So from a wood working side… I saw a lot of dovetails on TV as a child of the 80s and 90s. In this tale, McQuestion even describes them perfectly as she is describing an early 20th century man’s own wood working: a particular join of wood that makes the wood near inseparable even without any kind of glue or other fastener. And it truly is a thing of beauty when done properly, a join that actually adds to the overall beauty of the piece it is a part of.

And let me tell you… this particular story does the woodworking technique justice. McQuestion here does a pretty dramatic departure from her 2019 work Good Man Dalton, which was much lighter and airier. Instead, here we see rural early 20th century mores in full effect, as well as strong themes of jealousy and possession with disastrous results and lifelong regret. But what makes this story truly stand out is exactly how McQuestion executes the dovetail. When you’ve read as many books as I have, you see a lot of dual timeline stories these days. Hell, even the recently ended Arrow tv show famously used dual timelines in its entire run, even long after its initial run of them was over. What you don’t see, what I’ve never seen done before quite like this, is the exact mechanism McQuestion chooses to use to tell that particular story and have it dovetail with what is happening in the more current (though still nearly 40 years prior to the time I write this, and indeed in the year of my birth) story. I don’t want to give it away, even though the description speaks of it, simply because it was so well done and watching it unfold was truly a thing of beauty.

Indeed, in one particular section I was actually expecting one thing to happen – what I would have expected if I was in that situation, with a .308 hunting rifle and scope – and even here, McQuestion chose instead to continue with the dovetail.

Truly a phenomenal work, and very much recommended.

As always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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#BookReview: Missing Her More by Karen McQuestion

Splendiferous. This was a surprise follow up to the March 2019 release of Good Man, Dalton, where apparently this book came to McQuestion in a rush and she pushed it out rapidly. And it works well, particularly in fleshing out secondary characters from the earlier book and giving them a story of their own where they all come together, along with the lead couple from Good Man, Dalton and a few others. Not quite as intriguing in its real life commentary as the earlier book, but presents some issues some may scoff at, but that even this reader has experienced before. Excellent tale that does a great job of telling its own tale while also serving as a coda for the tale of Good Man, Dalton. Very much recommended.

This review of Missing Her More by Karen McQuestion was originally written on September 17, 2019.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Good Man, Dalton by Karen McQuestion

This week, we are looking at an intriguing examination of social media, reality television, and homelessness… all within the confines of a literally laugh out loud romantic comedy. This week, we are looking at Good Man, Dalton by Karen McQuestion.

Structurally, this book is intriguing because while it uses the split chapter approach so common in romance novels these days, it doesn’t actually have the couple meet up until just over 50% into the book. Instead, the first half of the book focuses on the individual arcs of the lead couple, and it is here that the book is perhaps its most moving.

Greta is a young college graduate who gets an internship with her second cousin’s prestigious New York City mega-company. She only knows her cousin through the family Christmas cards and the cousin’s perfectly fabulous social media channels, and she is awestruck. But when she gets a peek behind the curtains… McQuestion begins to show the reality of “reality television” that many of us have long suspected. Dalton is heading to New York City on a two week experiment of what it means to be homeless. He has carefully planned this excursion so that he has no easy access to the comforts and privileges he has enjoyed his entire life, and when he actually gets there and begins learning on the street, he finds that even many of the theories he has learned in college at even the graduate level are… in reality not always as the textbooks claim. Here again, McQuestion embarks on an intriguing examination of just what it means to be homeless in America circa 2020 ish, along with some intriguing ideas for approaches that may actually work.

At just before the halfway point, Greta and Dalton see each other for just a few seconds… and instantly realize there is some connection with this stranger on the other side of the glass. Just after the halfway point, their lives intersect again and they remain around each other through the end of the book. It is in this section of the book that it becomes perhaps its most hilarious, if a bit more “standard” in story. But even here, McQuestion plays with the questions of reality and living up to expectations.

Overall this is a remarkable work that is elevated by both McQuestion’s talent as a writer and the storytelling decisions she made. Both serve to take what could have been just another run of the mill New York City based romantic comedy and make it something that could stick with the reader for quite a while, in a way I’ve only ever seen done once in all the books I’ve ever read as it relates to homelessness in particular – Creston Mapes‘ 2007 work Nobody.

This is quite possibly the best book I’ve read so far in 2019, and I look forward to seeing what Ms. McQuestion has in store for us next.

As always, we end with the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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