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by Myrlin A. Hermes

When Eleanor insists that Natalie, her husband's biracial mistress, move in with them, the free-spirited Natalie unleashes Eleanor's unacknowledged ambitions, leading to life-changing confrontations when Eleanor leaves her abusive husband, her son, and their small Southern town. A first novel. 20,000 first printing.
Download Careful What You Wish for: A Novel epub
ISBN: 0684849321
ISBN13: 978-0684849324
Category: Literature
Subcategory: United States
Author: Myrlin A. Hermes
Language: English
Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (June 3, 1999)
Pages: 208 pages
ePUB size: 1898 kb
FB2 size: 1489 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 204
Other Formats: mbr lrf doc lrf

As a Southerner I am always skeptical of novels set in the South but written by someone not from there. But Ms. Hermes has successfully avoided the traps and cliches I expected. She has created a beautiful and somewhat sad world for her characters--the true strength of the novel--to inhabit. I highly recommend reading this novel, preferably on a rainy, windy afternoon.
I had high hopes for this book. Eleanor sarcastically invites her husband's mistress, a young black girl named Natalie to live with her family. Natalie is free, expressive and open in a way that Eleanor envies. Eleanor and Natalie begin to form a close relationship, as does the curious Adam, the young 13 year old son of Eleanor and John. John is obsessed with possessing Natalie and the story takes a tragic turn. Eleanor escapes her life, leaving her son behind and does not return to her town until 15 years later. Adam and Eleanor are strangers, haunted by their past. I could not really understand Eleanor and Adam during their attempts to reconcile.
When I picked up this book, I expected a compelling story that would captivate me. I was a bit disappointed, as the writing style was a bit flat and repetitive. I give the book 3 stars based on the original storyline, but the characters confused me, and I could not really warm to them.
Set in a small Southern town just after World War II, the plot of this first novel explores the impact a biracial young woman has on one family, particularly the wife/mother. What might have been an fascinating, absorbing treatment of relationships, however, misses the mark.
The author's writing style is boring from the very beginning. Hermes' fondness for semi-colons and the use of "there" in a sentence, which could be better written, are annoying. Similes are overdone and clichéd. Page 66: "... skipping like a stone across the bright surface of the lake." Page 132: "...skipped her thoughts like stones across the surface of her memory." The story is also strung-out emotionally and with implausibility more in keeping with a romance novel. Page 147, "What she wanted was someone to touch her, to touch her and care about how the touch felt on her skin...His scent was still there, but lightly faintly underneath, she could smell Natalie's violet, vanilla odor." (Natalie has been dead for thirteen years and never slept in the bed.)
Character angst leaves the reader frustrated rather than engaged and finishing the book takes real effort. The addition of a witch-type towards the end fails to kindle more than a passing spark of interest in the passive conclusion and the relevance of the book's title is never explained. Leave this one on the shelf.
This book is a beautiful blend of magic and femininity in a small town setting. The characters leap off the page, complete with scents and voices and quirks and histories, and the story weaves a spell around the reader in the same subtle way Natalie and Eleanor weave a spell over the town. I've never read anything with quite this take on magic in everyday life, and what it might have been like to be a black woman just after the emancipation in the south. I really enjoyed it.
It's hard to believe the author is only 23 -- her writing conveys depth, understanding, and overlays of life experience she couldn't possibly have. The characters are fully developed and stay with the reader long after the book is finished. The unusual plot keeps you wondering what happens next because you learn early on that this book is one of a kind. Highly recommended!
Like others have said the first half was better then the latter.