Anna Miller is a mother who is desperate to be with her young son, Oliver, and keep him safe. Unfortunately, her abusive ex-husband has primary custody of him and does everything he can to keep them apart. The court system has failed her, and on one of her days with Oliver she decides to take drastic measures – they flee the country to live in Italy, where Anna is from. A Lovely, Indecent Departure tells the sequence of events that follows this decision.
The book is written in third person and switches with each chapter between three characters: Anna, her ex-husband Evan, and Monroe, the town sheriff. Gilbert’s writing has a lot of promise; his sentences flow together easily and the overall writing style stays consistent through the book. One of the first things the reader will notice, however, is that the dialogue lacks any quotation marks. If this is a stylistic choice that the author has made, it’s not a very good one. There is a reason we use quotation marks to denote dialogue. Without it the book reads like endless prose, and endless prose can get quite tiresome. The lack of quotation marks also makes it difficult at times to tell what is and isn’t dialogue, while also making whatever is being said seem unimportant. Quotation marks are a type of punctuation, and punctuation tells us how significant something is – without it, the dialogue falls flat.
Another issue with the book is its wordiness. While some readers might enjoy the extra descriptions, this book has a lot of extraneous details that just aren’t important to the storyline. You could argue that these details add to mood of the book, but mostly they just take away from the actual plot.
The story itself is interesting, though; a great exploration into the tragic privates lives of this family. The characters are complex and read like real people. Although Anna technically kidnapped her son, seeing the situation through her eyes gives us the chance to recognize that she only did it out of love. We’re also get to be inside of Evan’s head, and it becomes very clear, very quickly that he is not the kind of man you would want to leave your child with. It’s hard for the reader to fault Anna for what she did, despite breaking the law.
Overall, the book could have used some work, including the addition of quotation marks, but it’s not a bad piece of fiction. Gilbert’s writing has a lot of potential and he writes characters very well. It will be interesting to see what he writes in the future.
Title: A Lovely, Indecent Departure
Author: Steven Lee Gilbert
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication: Steven Lee Gilbert (March 23, 2012)
Price: $2.99 (e-book, all formats), $9.13 (paperback )
Author’s Website: http://stevenleegilbert.com/