The Spoon Stealer

 The Spoon Stealer by Lesley Crewe

I read the author's first novel, Relative Happiness, several years ago but didn't enjoy it, so when The Spoon Stealer was chosen as one of our Book Club selections this year I was hoping for better. Unfortunately I didn't like this one either.  

The story is about Emmeline Darling, a well-meaning, if somewhat loud and pushy woman, and her dog Vera, who she talks to and who it appears talks back to her. I was never quite sure if I was meant to believe in the talking dog or to see it as the author's method of revealing Emmeline's inner dialogue. I'm going with the latter.  

Emmeline is living in England when the story opens, far from her childhood home in Nova Scotia. She's been out of touch with her family for many years after making decisions of which they didn't approve. It's more complicated than that of course, and to give credit where credit is due, Emmeline's life is interesting, if increasingly unrealistic. 

She joins a memoir writing group at her local library, meeting the women who will become her best friends as the story progresses. Each week they read to the group parts of what they've written, with Emmeline's generating the most interest, gasps, tears and generally over-the-top reactions. I found the writing in the memoir passages to be better than that in the general story. It's less dramatic, more concise, and much more enjoyable to read. I wish the whole book had been written like that.

When Emmeline learns that she has inherited her family's farm in Nova Scotia, she and Vera plan a trip back to her childhood home, hoping to make peace with her family and figure out what to do with the property. As they all get to know each other again, more of her memoir is revealed, with the last few secrets brought to light only at the end, though you do begin to suspect some of them earlier. 

The last two chapters - oh, dear, the last two chapters - tell us how Emmeline, the all-wise, magnanimous saviour they've all been needing, has arranged to see that everyone gets exactly what they need/want to make their dreams come true and live better lives.   

I wanted to like this, but it all feels too exaggerated and improbable. The best I can say is it might have been better if it was toned down. Way down.  


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