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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Review: American Suite by author Diana E. Sheets

Details about the book:
Author: Diana E. Sheets
ISBN: 978-1-934978-33-7
Publisher: Jorge Pinto Books
No. of pages: 269

This copy of the book American Suite by Diana E. Sheets is a complimentary review copy sent through Book Pleasures and the author personally. This is NOT A PURCHASED COPY.

American Suite by author Diana E. Sheets is a contemporary novel, written in the form of diary entries. The book takes its voice from the perspective of its three main female characters – Rosalyn Selby, Sophie (Rosalyn’s elder daughter) and Arisa (younger daughter). The women are all part of the affluent America from well-to-do families, and are strong, independent identities. Their personalities and views often clash with each other, giving us different views and perspectives to situations and emotions.

The central plot runs through the life of Arisa, the youngest daughter of Rosalyn. Arisa is the typical young, independent woman in her mid-thirties, out there chasing her career, and in the process, giving up her beau, her old career, and severing ties with her widowed mother and elder sister.

Compulsive and driven by passions, she soon falls in love within days of reaching her new destination, but finds out that her dream man is married and has kids. Heartbroken, Arisa tries to get back with her ex, but realizes it is over between them. Her emotional upheavals leave her shaken and she decides to take the help of therapy, but things don’t get any better. After a few more not-so-pleasant experiences, she falls in love all over again, this time with a Hollywood director and screenwriter. Their relationship is tumultuous and she soon finds out that he had been filming their relationship to use in his next movie, Legs Wide Open. Arisa steals his dog and decides to now take a break and goes to stay in a monastery for a short time. She finally returns home and decides to write a book based on her experiences. Yet again she falls in love, this time with an ex-con.

The other two characters have their share of events, but are not given as much space as Arisa and her life. Rosalyn is a widow who lives in the city and wishes she were a Jew. Sophie, her elder daughter, lives with her family and struggles to keep up the charade of a picture-perfect family, while her husband is out of a job, and while she experiences lust for her son’s tutor.

American Suite has been described as a ‘comedy’, but I found it to be darker than a comedy. The book can best be described as a take on romance and drama. Many critics have felt it’s quite close to life in real, but somehow, I did not identify with the characters much. Arisa’s now-this now-that man syndrome is a little too much to handle, and I found it quite odd that despite being made out a strong, independent and sensible young woman in the beginning, she only falls for the wrong men each time. I could not identify with Rosalyn’s obsession or desire to have been born a Jew. I can, however, identify with Sophie’s growing lust for her son’s tutor – it has more shades of ‘real’ in it.

The book is a light read that is full of comedy, drama, sex and content that will interest you enough to reach to the end.

Personal Verdict: Ok

* Debolina Raja Gupta is an international book reviewer with Book Pleasures.

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- Debolina Raja Gupta

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