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The Almost Moon

by

The Almost Moon Cover

 

Staff Pick

As you likely know if you're reading this, The Almost Moon opens with a startling confession: Helen Knightly has killed her mother — and the killing "came easily," she admits. What follows is a remarkable, tension-filled examination of aging and responsibility, motivation, action, and consequences. Sebold's control is masterful. Her great achievement here is to cloud the murder in such moral ambiguity that Knightly's subsequent actions, criminal or not, will quite possibly strike readers as more distasteful than the matricide. The Almost Moon, so highly anticipated, is a truly great, relentlessly creepy book.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.

For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined. Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.

Review:

"Sebold's disappointing second novel (after much-lauded The Lovely Bones) opens with the narrator's statement that she has killed her mother. Helen Knightly, herself the mother of two daughters and an art class model old enough to be the mother of the students who sketch her nude figure, is the dutiful but resentful caretaker for her senile 88-year-old mother, Clair. One day, traumatized by the stink of Clair's voided bowels and determined to bathe her, Helen succumbs to 'a life-long dream' and smothers Clair, who had sucked 'the life out of [Helen] day by day, year by year.' After dragging Clair's corpse into the cellar and phoning her ex-husband to confess her crime, Helen has sex with her best friend's 30-year-old 'blond-god doofus' son. Jumping between past and present, Sebold reveals the family's fractured past (insane, agoraphobic mother; tormented father, dead by suicide) and creates a portrait of Clair that resembles Sebold's own mother as portrayed in her memoir, Lucky. While Helen has clearly suffered at her mother's hands, the matricide is woefully contrived, and Helen's handling of the body and her subsequent actions seem almost slapstick. Sebold can write, that's clear, but her sophomore effort is not in line with her talent." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Alice Sebold makes us listen to women we don't want to listen to: a rape victim, a murdered teenager and, now, a daughter who's smothered her elderly mother to death. She attends to the kinds of people who, historically, have been doubted, ignored or shamed into silence. She can describe shocking acts of violence and long periods of recovery in prose that is at once deeply sympathetic and surprisingly... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"The pace is superb, a slow tease that alternates between calm, reflective flashbacks and tense, tight descriptions of Helen's attempts to hide her crime and avoid the police....A daring, devastating novel; highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"[A]nother home run, a story with a plot wholly different from The Lovely Bones but just as beautifully constructed, fearless and fast-paced....[A] breathless read....[I]t ventures into startling new territory." Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"[A]n emotionally raw novel that is, at times, almost too painful to read....Sebold brings to the portrait such honesty and empathy that many will find their own dark impulses reflected here; however, it is so unremittingly bleak that it seems unlikely that it will be greeted with the same enthusiasm as her debut." Booklist

Review:

"[A]nnoying, unconvincing and deeply perplexing. Although it shares some themes with Ms. Sebold's acclaimed best seller, The Lovely Bones...this volume demonstrates none of the psychological acuity or emotional chiaroscuro of that earlier book." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"The book does have its flaws, but more on the scale of blips than full narrative derailments....Along with its buoying dark wit, it is this eerily familiar blurred line between sane and insane that makes The Almost Moon simultaneously uncomfortable and absorbing." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Sebold writes just as beautifully here, with the same knack for stating truths page after page....This novel is a fiercely written, risky work, and it is, by its very nature, unpleasant." Houston Chronicle

Review:

"Alas, Alice Sebold's follow-up to her bestselling debut...is not the grisly sexed-up gothic it initially appears, but a banal and earnest family psychodrama about crummy parents and the wounded children who hate them. (Grade: C)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Moon is so antic, so over the top that you keep turning the pages in a frenzy of disbelief....Is there a literary prize for most cringe-worthy sentence in a single work of fiction?" USA Today

Review:

"[W]hile she is capable of astute observation and some intriguing sentences, reading The Almost Moon is akin to swallowing bile....When you are tempted [to pick up The Almost Moon] at the bookstore or the library, please remember two words: 'Vomit City.'" Cleveland Plain Dealer

Review:

"[A] story that no one other than Chuck Palahniuk would ever call 'heartwarming.'" Christian Science Monitor

Review:

"Sebold's beautifully crafted tale resonates with the everyday horrors of modern living and dying. Expect more groundbreaking work from this writer." San Antonio Express-News

Synopsis:

Sebold's #1 national bestselling follow-up to The Lovely Bones is now available in paperback. The Almost Moon is "brilliantly paced, it's brutally honest....A haunting, searing novel" (Boston Globe).

About the Author

Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky: A Memoir. She lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Megan Smith, October 13, 2010 (view all comments by Megan Smith)
I listened to this book as an audio book, so my experience may be different than others'.

This book was more morbid than I was bargaining for. I listened to Sebold's other two books; Lucky and The Lovely Bones. I guess I realized when listening to her other books that Sebold has a special way of writing that is a bit morbid than I'm used to, but she gets into the mind of her main characters in a unique way. However, in this book the morbidity came on more so than I was expecting or wanted.

Sebold's writing was very personal, as usual, which made for a great in-depth perception. However, the main character was a generation older than myself, which I think was part of my dislike for the book. Also, the switch from present day to flashbacks and back came and went very quickly and too fluidly, I got confused with this a lot. This may have been because I was listening and not reading and thus able to see page breaks, if they were there.

As for the ending, which I'm sure a lot of people are frustrated with...it was going to happen. As much as I like things being spelled out for me, this ending left vaguely hanging was fine with me.

Not something I'd read again nor recommend to other people. Sebold's other two books were better, more interesting reads, in my opinion.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780316067362
Author:
Sebold, Alice
Publisher:
Back Bay Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Publication Date:
September 2008
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
291
Dimensions:
8.24x5.47x.82 in. .63 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Almost Moon New Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.99 In Stock
Product details 291 pages Back Bay Books - English 9780316067362 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

As you likely know if you're reading this, The Almost Moon opens with a startling confession: Helen Knightly has killed her mother — and the killing "came easily," she admits. What follows is a remarkable, tension-filled examination of aging and responsibility, motivation, action, and consequences. Sebold's control is masterful. Her great achievement here is to cloud the murder in such moral ambiguity that Knightly's subsequent actions, criminal or not, will quite possibly strike readers as more distasteful than the matricide. The Almost Moon, so highly anticipated, is a truly great, relentlessly creepy book.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Sebold's disappointing second novel (after much-lauded The Lovely Bones) opens with the narrator's statement that she has killed her mother. Helen Knightly, herself the mother of two daughters and an art class model old enough to be the mother of the students who sketch her nude figure, is the dutiful but resentful caretaker for her senile 88-year-old mother, Clair. One day, traumatized by the stink of Clair's voided bowels and determined to bathe her, Helen succumbs to 'a life-long dream' and smothers Clair, who had sucked 'the life out of [Helen] day by day, year by year.' After dragging Clair's corpse into the cellar and phoning her ex-husband to confess her crime, Helen has sex with her best friend's 30-year-old 'blond-god doofus' son. Jumping between past and present, Sebold reveals the family's fractured past (insane, agoraphobic mother; tormented father, dead by suicide) and creates a portrait of Clair that resembles Sebold's own mother as portrayed in her memoir, Lucky. While Helen has clearly suffered at her mother's hands, the matricide is woefully contrived, and Helen's handling of the body and her subsequent actions seem almost slapstick. Sebold can write, that's clear, but her sophomore effort is not in line with her talent." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "The pace is superb, a slow tease that alternates between calm, reflective flashbacks and tense, tight descriptions of Helen's attempts to hide her crime and avoid the police....A daring, devastating novel; highly recommended."
"Review" by , "[A]nother home run, a story with a plot wholly different from The Lovely Bones but just as beautifully constructed, fearless and fast-paced....[A] breathless read....[I]t ventures into startling new territory."
"Review" by , "[A]n emotionally raw novel that is, at times, almost too painful to read....Sebold brings to the portrait such honesty and empathy that many will find their own dark impulses reflected here; however, it is so unremittingly bleak that it seems unlikely that it will be greeted with the same enthusiasm as her debut."
"Review" by , "[A]nnoying, unconvincing and deeply perplexing. Although it shares some themes with Ms. Sebold's acclaimed best seller, The Lovely Bones...this volume demonstrates none of the psychological acuity or emotional chiaroscuro of that earlier book."
"Review" by , "The book does have its flaws, but more on the scale of blips than full narrative derailments....Along with its buoying dark wit, it is this eerily familiar blurred line between sane and insane that makes The Almost Moon simultaneously uncomfortable and absorbing."
"Review" by , "Sebold writes just as beautifully here, with the same knack for stating truths page after page....This novel is a fiercely written, risky work, and it is, by its very nature, unpleasant."
"Review" by , "Alas, Alice Sebold's follow-up to her bestselling debut...is not the grisly sexed-up gothic it initially appears, but a banal and earnest family psychodrama about crummy parents and the wounded children who hate them. (Grade: C)"
"Review" by , "Moon is so antic, so over the top that you keep turning the pages in a frenzy of disbelief....Is there a literary prize for most cringe-worthy sentence in a single work of fiction?"
"Review" by , "[W]hile she is capable of astute observation and some intriguing sentences, reading The Almost Moon is akin to swallowing bile....When you are tempted [to pick up The Almost Moon] at the bookstore or the library, please remember two words: 'Vomit City.'"
"Review" by , "[A] story that no one other than Chuck Palahniuk would ever call 'heartwarming.'"
"Review" by , "Sebold's beautifully crafted tale resonates with the everyday horrors of modern living and dying. Expect more groundbreaking work from this writer."
"Synopsis" by , Sebold's #1 national bestselling follow-up to The Lovely Bones is now available in paperback. The Almost Moon is "brilliantly paced, it's brutally honest....A haunting, searing novel" (Boston Globe).
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