Sunday, September 25, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: Commune of Women by Suzan Still

Release Date: July 16th, 2011
Publisher: The Fiction Studio
Page Count: 380
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author, via Pump Up Your Book Promotions, in exchange for  an honest and unbiased review (thank you both!!), as part of the virtual blog tour

On an ordinary Los Angeles morning, six unrelated women converge on Los Angeles International Airport. A hornet's nest of chaos ensues, and the women find their survival depends on their ability to navigate a web of interpersonal and cultural conflict.
  • Sophia, adept at the arts of survival, who takes the lead;
  • Pearl, an ancient bag lady whose wisdom becomes guidance;
  • Erika, a top executive whose business trip is cut short by a bullet wound;
  • Heddi, a Jungian analyst who must use her skills to help the others;
  • Betty, an overweight, histrionic housewife who endangers everything;
  • Ondine, a wealthy and neurotic artist whose self-absorption turns to action;
Each much use her slender resources and innate abilities to survive.

For four days, the women sustain themselves by telling their life stories, which grow darker and more intimate as the days pass. Meanwhile, Najat, abandoned by her male companions in a control room with a view of the entire terminal and of televised rescue efforts, struggles between her own conscience and the dictates of her group, the Brothers.

Commune of Women explores what happens when ordinary citizens meet their worst nightmare. It is a novel of travail, gritty determination, compassion, and the will to prevail.
What Stephanie Thinks: Suzan Still takes an insightful and deep approach to women's fiction in this novel of multiple perspectives that all have one thing in common: control. Or rather, lack thereof. Each woman, each life portrayed, couldn't be more different. Each individual, shaped by what they have experienced and developed with, is unique. However, after gathering, each realizes, that they are actually quite the same.
I enjoy how each protagonist gets their own narrative. Only one of the seven characters speaks in the first person, but all the third-person perspectives are equally intimate. Still is keen on characterization, very much based off verisimilitude, which strengthens the sense of sympathy I gain for each of the main characters. Najat's story especially, the story of the opponent, or in this case, the perpetrator of the initial tragedy, touches me and has me rethinking my values of who I condemn as "good" and who I convict as "bad". Personally, I hate prejudice but it's always in my subconscience; it's in everybody's. Knowing on the other hand, that what we judge has its own mindset itself, is both puzzling and enlightening, but it has the ability to keep us in check, which I think is most important.

Stylistically, this book is not phenomenal. At best, I would call it lush, in that it is finely detailed. However, there's really no suspense or poise to it. I find it bland and catch myself trudging through it. It doesn't take away from the storyline too much, but it's definitely something that bothers me.

Commune of Women is a book of interest, but not really something outrageous. I like the story enough to get through it, but not enough to highly suggest it to someone in search of a recommended read. As I personally am interested in depth psychology, I was able to connect with this book, but conventionally, most people may not see it the same way.

Stephanie Loves: ". . . it's not possible to grieve for anyone else until you've truly grieved for yourself."

Radical Rating: 7 hearts: Not without flaws, but overall enjoyable. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥