I want to thank Maureen Connolly for her profound and haunting book “Little Lovely Things: A Novel,” which she sent to me. This is a book that I had heard several good things about, and I was excited to read it. Maureen is very kind, and I cannot thank her enough for this gift.
Let me start with the first impressions, and that goes to this beautiful and understated cover, along with the way it’s set up. The detail and work put into the crafting of this physical book is a big deal for me. I love books that look beautiful but also are not so delicate they fall apart. The other great thing is the paper is durable and well selected. It’s not too textured that the ink is lost, and it’s not thin so that it can be torn at all. Whoever took the time to select all the little details from the paper thickness to the font choice, did an incredibly good job.
Now let’s talk about the actual story. I was hooked from moment one to this story, and yet, it made me look away more than once. I’m a mother of two children, and the initial premise of what caused conflict and ultimately, the story itself, was painful to read, I cringed.
In all of of the books that I have read, Claire Rawlings remains more frustrating to me as a protagonist, than any other. Maureen did a fantastic job because though I find the character frustrating, the situation is possible.
Let me go into some critiques I have for “Little Lovely Things,” and the first one is under my category of “Whole Story.” I will go more into this category with the positive elements later on, but I wanted to discuss what I thought was a miss. The ending of the story, where the climax fits with the story ending, was rushed. It felt like it might have been an over edit situation, but I’m not sure. There were threads to the plot and sub-plot that got mashed together and didn’t pace the same way other things had in the story. The essential elements of the story were concluded well, and it was okay, but it wasn’t the most satisfying ending. I genuinely wish I could have seen more done in the form of justice against the antagonist. It just doesn’t feel to me like it ended in the most natural place for an ending.
My second issue under “Story Structure, Foundation, and Presentation” has to do with the foundational work done with setting up the antagonist and secondary antagonist. This also felt slightly rushed, and I wish there had been a touch more here. There were discussions on clans, and familial issues with the antagonist, but nothing to the extent of how this made sense to why they did what they did. I didn’t understand a lot of the motivation behind the things they were doing. I did get there was an abusive situation, and that there was a force situation too, but after the secondary antagonist wasn’t around anymore, the rest of the motivations of the primary antagonist were odd to me.
Let me go into some things that I found very positive about “Little Lovely Things.” The first thing I want to praise is under the “Whole Story” category, and that has to do with the first and second act. The way the protagonist had her negative character arch progress was wonderful. I love when an author can get a decent negative character arch to work, and have realistic stakes to it. I felt the weight of Claire’s actions, what that did to her, to those around her and her life. I’m surprised it wasn’t worse, but I think I have little patience for the situation she put herself in.
Next, I want to go into “Story Structure, Foundation, and Presentation,” and I enjoyed how the story was laid out. Those two sections that start the story are set up well, the progression works well, and it makes a lot of sense. I enjoyed how it was put together. I enjoyed all of the characters and how they were there. Aside from the issues I noted above, everything made sense. Even the role of Jay was done well, and his motivations made sense to me.
Lastly, I wanted to say how well done but tragic the story of Lilly was. That broke my heart to bits. I think of all of the other elements there were, that one was striking, but again, a reason that parents should be diligent in all they do to protect and take care of their responsibilities.
Overall, “Lovely Little Things: A Novel” is a book that I feel all mothers should read, be it young or old. Either you’re going to be like me and just furious with Claire, or you are going to be sympathetic, and I think that would make the discussion on the book more enriching.
And thus with all of my scoring on my categories, I am going to give “Lovely Little Things: A Novel” a score of 81/100 which is a 4-star review on Goodreads and Amazon.
I want to thank Maureen again for the kindness in providing me with a copy, and let me read this excellent book.