I'm very excited to review Selene Castrovilla's new novel, Luna Rising. The award-winning author has published children's books and young adult novels, so I knew the writing for her first venture into women's fiction would be sound. I was not disappointed. Plus, don't you just love the title? That's what lured me in.
|You had me at Luna!|
Ms. Castrovilla creates an interesting character in Luna Lampanelli, an almost-40-something mom who finds herself without a man after separating from her husband (who has kept the fact that he's gay a secret since before the wedding bells and after the birth of their two boys.) Luna is not a typical women's-fiction heroine. Though she's funny and smart, she's also deeply damaged. Her father was a heroine addict who left her in the hands of her narcissistic mother. Thus, Luna's obsessive desire for love is understandable, but her pursuit of it can be frustrating as she falls for one unsuitable man after another. I found myself wanting to shout at Luna:
Fortunately, Luna has a conscience (which she refers to as Jiminy - like the Cricket in Pinnochio) and a snarky, but honest, best friend named Sunny (a secondary character who truly came alive.) I enjoyed this novel the most when Luna was having conversations (real or imagined) with either of them. The snappy, hilarious exchanges between Luna and Sunny were works of art. In fact, I felt the book's greatest strength was the truly believable dialogue, the type a reader can get lost in. This is not something to take lightly as I've read books where the prose flowed along, but the dialogue was phony and stilted. Also? This book contains the type of dialogue that makes me think of there could be a movie version. Therefore, I've taken the liberty of casting Luna and Sunny. I'm sure the author will not mind!
Sunny: Maya Rudolph
Bottom line, Luna Rising is a solid debut in Women's Fiction. Those who enjoy the genre will find much to love about Luna and her quest for happiness. It is not, however, a typical fluffy romp. There's plenty of romping to be had, for sure. But, it is not as satisfying as it should be as the reader is never given the opportunity to form a bond with any of the male characters. In fact, we find much to dislike about each of her lovers. This can be a wonderful thing in Literary Fiction but not something a reader expects in Women's Fiction. Still, it was well worth the read as I loved the characters and dialogue along with Jiminy's on-point psycho-analysis. I rate it a 3.5 out of 5.
My rating system:
5 - Never. Not unless the novel is the next Gone With the Wind. I don't trust 5's, and neither should you.
4.5 - Great. One of the best novels I've read in awhile.
4.0 - Really good. I highly recommend it.
3.5 - Good. Lives up to expectations.
3.0 - Good enough. Enjoyable if not perfect. Who needs perfect all the time?
2.5 - Weak. Author has potential, but reading this particular novel was a struggle due to flaws.
2.0 - Not good. Can't recommend at all.
1.5 and below - Never. I don't trust anything below a 2, and neither should you.
About Selene Castrovilla
(Of Note: I was provided a free advanced review copy of Luna Rising from Last Syllable Books in exchange for an unbiased review. I received no compensation for this review and am not acquainted with the author.)
This is a Jen Halligan PR book tour.