Self-Portait With Ghosts
by Kelly Dwyer, contemporary (2000)
Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-425-17696-7


Don't read the back cover of this book or else you'll know the entire story already. Let's just say a very major event that happens to Kate's brother, Luke, is the climax of Kate's path of self-discovery, and the nature of the event is tossed off-hand at the back cover. My mood is quite ruined, thanks to the idiot blurb, thanks so much.

Anyway, this is yet another one of those depressed women pulling themselves together story. Kate has to deal with a rebellious daughter as well as to get over her self-pity at being dumped by her ex for her sister. (Since she says repeatedly that she never loves him, her self-pity comes off as rather silly.) She also starts a tentative courtship with Alek, a guy who is really too good to be true. Alek once wanted to marry her, but she refused then. Now she's wondering why she ever said no. Hey, Kate's a "women's fiction heroine", what can I say? Clueless in love, them all.

So while Kate mopes, weeps, and sighs as she clings on to her brother Luke, she gets a rude awakening shock when Luke just - well, read the back cover or visit the Amazon link below. I don't want to spoil this story and get lots of hate mail later. Bereft of a male authority figure, she turns to Alek - oh, oh, oh Alek!

Okay, I may sound derisive of the whole affair - and to an extent I am, since I think Kate is seriously one woman who is still stuck in her teenage neuroses - but I must admit the pay-off of this story is amazingly good. Alek and Luke are two of the best Authority Figures a limpet heroine like Kate could have, and the way Alek makes everything right as Kate - finally - starts to put her life in order by the last few chapters is very, very romantic. Come to think of it, maybe there are perks to clinging on like an ivy to a reliable hunk who loves to be clung to.

The author's laborious writing style doesn't help matter, I must say. She tends to go on and on and on in making her characters experience long, deep introspection in sentences - like this - that seem devoid of full stops, commas, and even the semi-colon; they just go on and on into irrelevant tangents until I just collapse in exhaustion trying to follow the characters' train of thought.

(That must be the longest sentence I've ever written on this site.)

But really, Alek and poor, poor Luke. Too bad I'm not a medieval Middle-Eastern female omnipotent Sultana, because shucks, I won't mind having a harem with those two very nice and dream-come-true hunks around.

Rating: 75


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