I received a copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.
I hate leaving bad reviews. I usually try to find some redeeming quality in books, even if I don't really like them, but this book was extremely difficult for me to get through.
At first I absolutely loved it. The writing style really pulled me in and I was intrigued by the imperfect character. However, after a hundred pages or so, the novelty of the poetic writing wore off and the character came off as too pessimistic (which coming from a pessimist is probably saying a lot).
There were a lot of things that really turned me off to this book. For one, the main character is self-centered, dull, self-destructive, and pessimistic, all qualities that can lead to a great character, but doesn't really do much for this one, given the almost complete lack of character growth. This leads to the second turn off, which is that absolutely nothing happens in the book. This is really more of a fluid list of reflections on life rather than a novel with a plot or any real meaning.
At times I found myself agreeing with the main character (the double bind of women pleasing others, questioning having children, descriptions of depression and anxiety), but the character herself was so horrible that it made me feel bad about myself for having anything in common with her. It is almost tragic that the book was not narrated by almost any other character, because some of the side characters may have been halfway descent, but we will never know, because Elsie steals the show with her half-thought out meditations and questionable life decisions.
The nonchalant stance on violence was what really pushed me off the edge. Possible abuse and rape that the character doesn't define as rape? I think we really could do better than that, especially with a character who spends so much time in her own head thinking about life.
At one time, Elsie reflects that, "There is no point to my life," which I think really sums up what happens in the entire book. The book was too dense and too deep for me. I found nothing profound about it. It felt like overhearing the thoughts of a (rather uninteresting, aimless) stranger and gaining absolutely no insight from the experience. While the writing style was unique and often well-developed, the character and the story just did not live up to it.