I hate reading slumps and I loathe having to put up with what is commonly known as “writer’s block”. But I especially detest that feeling of loss and frustration when these two come together. Fortunately, there are books that help with that. One evening, I was desperate for a book like that and a friend recommended “Misery Loves Company” to me. It was a free e-book on Amazon, so I downloaded it. The timing could not be more perfect – the new season of “Castle” has recently started, and this book is arguably heavily influenced by this show.
Juliet, a young aspiring writer and a blogger reviews a book each month written by her favourite author Patrick Reagan – a reclusive individual from her tiny Maine hometown. She hasn’t been quite herself since her husband Jason’s murder and it is reflected in her writing. One day, she is shopping for groceries and bumps into Reagan; then everything goes black. She wakes up in a stranger’s house and realises that she has been kidnapped. Her captor is no other than Patrick Reagan, her favourite author. He claims that he is keeping her there because he wants to give her a “writing lesson” of sorts and believes that, after reading her less than pleasant review of his latest book, she needs to learn more about him and why he writes the way he does. Meanwhile, back in Jules’ small town, her alcoholic father reports her missing and her late husband’s partner, Chris, begins an investigation which leads to some very surprising and tragic discoveries.
In short, the book has more than done the job – it has gotten me out of my reading slump and somewhat penetrated writer’s block. It is quite an unusual book – I would say that the best way to describe it would be “Castle” meets “Beauty and the Beast”. It is obvious that the author is a big fan of “Castle” – the murder mystery subplot felt like it was written by Andrew Marlowe – the writer of the show. However, the book is primarily to remind us of the beauty and miracle of writing. Gutteridge uses religious undertones in order to show the parallels between God and a writer. She says that the reason writers “play God” is because sometimes, the only way to escape, to show that you care about someone and that it gets better for that someone is to write; the writers usually work things out for the good of main character. Clearly, some of Gutteridge’s favourite works is where the protagonist has accomplished more than they thought they ever could. I just loved the way she talks about it, and the line about the main character “continuing on into the white space of literature” and living there happily ever after has really gotten to me and made me think about how many times all of us just dreamt of being a character in a book. Perhaps, subconsciously, one of the reasons we want that is literary security, i.e. knowledge that we shall live forever, on the pages of a literary masterpiece.
In my opinion, this book is a must-read for most writers and bloggers, particularly if you like detectives and mystery novels. Although Juliet’s character development could have used a bit more work, I really liked Patrick’s journey and development and I feel that it makes up for the rest of the characters which are rather two-dimensional compared to him. My rating is 7.5/10.
Patrick – he is a very complex and intriguing guy (well, most writers are!). Although this book is written mostly from Juliet’s point of view, we really get to see several sides of him through her eyes; however, he still remains a very mysterious figure by the end of the novel.
Most relatable character:
Juliet (or Jules). I felt that while she wasn’t the best written character, I could relate to her both as a blogger and as a booklover. Writing and reading has really helped me to deal with certain things in the past, and the way Juliet relies and clings to it (as well as to faith) as a way to get by after her husband’s death almost made me choke up – I could really relate to that.
Juliet and Patrick – there is no romance between them since they both have lost the loves of their lives to bullets and cancer respectively. However, the way their relationship progresses throughout the book – from author and admirer to prisoner and captor and to mutual respect and understanding – was very fascinating to read. Also, I liked that the book did not glorify Patrick kidnapping Jules and attempted to make it romantic – Gutteridge describes it the way it should be: terrifying (at least in the beginning).
“And learning is painful. Pain is the greatest teacher. We learn that the first time we reach our little hands up to touch a hot stove. You cannot come to any real conclusions without suffering.”
“Writing absorbs confusion and chaos, you see”.
Juliet Belleno – Rachel Nichols
Patrick Reagan – Nathan Fillion or better, his character Richard Castle
You might like “Misery Loves Company” if you liked:
“Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon;
“Misery” by Stephen King