The Edger

The Edger

by Marilyn Baron and Sharon Goldman

Anna (02/04/12) The hardest thing about writing a book review is not giving away too much of the story. That's especially the case with The Edger, a women's fiction novel by Marilyn Baron and illustrated by Sharon Goldman. Let's just say that any book opening with a drawing of a rabbit isn't going to be what it seems. Just ask Alice.

The Edger opens with heroine Alexandra (Alex). She's a 40-year-old artist in denial that her marriage and art lack passion. She compulsively fills the void in her life with stuff that turns to clutter, both physical and mental. Who better to show her the worthlessness of the stuff and propel her to rediscover her love of painting than a homeless yardman who was also once a world-famous artist? The Edger of the title, he is named both for a tool of his trade and for the fact that he now lives on the edge of society. The complication is that the Edger, Nick, was a professor with whom Alex once nearly had a relationship.

So, you think that's it. We're going to see these people fall in love. The author does do an admirable job of unfolding the relationship between Alex and Nick without damaging the morals of either character. As much as Alex is stirred by new-found passion, she stays true to a marriage about which she's only slowly learning the truth. Too, the writing in Alex's point of view, often gently humorous, is endearing. In a moment of revelation, Alex comes to see her life in terms of the accumulated stuff around her: "A food processor that blended a homogenous mix of unfulfilled dreams. A food processor that didn't inspire passion."

But, dear reader, the expertly handled relationship is not all you're going to get. The way in which Alex finds out the truth about her marriage and the value of her art is a page-turning journey down a twisting and turning rabbit hole in which nothing is what it seems--not the diamond bracelet, the art show, or even Nick's drawings. Just follow the rabbit for a riveting read.
Rating:*****

A.K. (02/04/12) The Edger is jointly authored by Marilyn Baron and Sharon Goldman. I've always wondered about the whole idea of co-authoring. Whether one writer comes up with all the ideas and the creative stuff and the other sits there crossing the t's and dotting the i's. Or whether they'd take a chapter at a time. One of the interesting things about reading this book was trying to find the voice of each individual author, but this reader for one couldn't find any of the joins.

This book is a funny, clever, compulsive read. (And it has a great title too, methinks, very distinctive.) Its populated by a (mostly) likeable bunch of characters who are real human beings with real human flaws. I liked Nick, the artist hero, The Edger himself more than the protagonist, Alexandra, but perhaps that's because Alex's early appearances seem mostly concerned with moaning and shopping. The villains of the piece, the errant husband and his buxom girlfriend, Bitsy, were also well drawn. Mark is "a funny and charming boy" who's perhaps too handsome for his own good. But I even found myself with some sneaking sympathy for Mark, the husband, when it was revealed he was a victim of the recession.

I have to admit this is the first 'Suspense Romance' I've read at this length, but I found the book a breeze to get through. It's kind of like Michael Connolly meets chick-lit and this is the lovechild! Like The Edger's sketches, the book "draws you in whether you wanted in or not." The book was very well constructed and lavishly styled. The plot was intriguing and kept the reader guessing. My particular favourite moment was the climax of the first half of the novel, at the art gallery. This was a scene of revelation for more than one character and the author(s) handled the multiple viewpoints spectacularly well. Also we never lost sight of each character's story goals and where they were on their narrative arc. I always felt the author(s) were in control of the story and they weren't going to let me get off the story 'train' until I reached the final destination.

But what did I like most about the book? The wit and charm I've come to expect from a Marilyn Baron work. I loved the humour. The clever way the psychogeography of a divided house was established with a few key points (the Great Wall of China/ Alex losing herself in clutter). Baron and Goldman handle their characters and dialogue with tender loving care, but sometimes drop in blunt, comedy instruments, just to keep the reader on their toes I liked the names and how they fit. The Edger for example, because "he seemed obsessively attached to his power tool (fnar, fnar) and he lived on the fringes of society." There's also Mark Newborn (who's a bit of a baby in terms of keeping a happy marriage, despite the fact they've been married 133 dog years), Red Cross (Red Cross!) the criminal-defense attorney, and Hope Diamond (I won't spoil it by telling you who she is). The set-up and the set pieces are excellently executed and I couldn't recommend this book highly enough... And the first meeting between Nick and Alex (and I won't spoil it here) is a cracker, completely turns romance conventions on their head!
Rating:****

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