Wednesday, 17 May 2017

TLC BOOK TOURS Review: Vanishing Point by E V Legters

Vanishing Point by E V Legters

Publisher: Lethe Press (May 27, 2017)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction /LGBT

My Rating:
Disclaimer: A complimentary digital copy of 'Vanishing Point' was provided by the author in exchange for an honest unbiased review and to take part in this blog tour.

"Nothing's changed except Angela Dunnewald." From the inside of her life and marriage, Angela discovers she's gone quite mad. Her sense of self, of direction, has frayed and she finds herself lost and alone despite a calendar full of society events, charity meetings, shopping dates, and dinners her aloof husband expects her to attend. Her best friend is a vivacious flirt, but Angela only strays when she discovers a young drifter haunting the grounds of her house. Desire to be intimate unlocks the need for achievement; Angela becomes unrecognizable to her peers and to herself.

Legters’ new novel offers betrayal, passion, secrets, and truth, all from inside a world that threatens to suffocate to the vanishing point.

My Thoughts:
Written in the present, third person narrative and interspersed with flashbacks to Angela's early married life, much of the book is written in a bleak and languidly depressive tone, but it does have an uplifting anticipatory edge and ultimate feeling of hopefulness too.

Evie's characters are well rounded and plausible with flawed, highly complex personalities, all working to their own agendas.  I didn't particularly like any of them, far too spoilt, spiteful and full of their own self importance for my liking.

I had a real sense that Angela was, indeed, at vanishing point. Her mental state affected me in such a way that I felt despair and miserable reading about her achingly dull, insignificant existence. There, only to give meaning and purpose for another; for Ross her husband of 19 years; or for her friend Lydia of 12 years in accompanying her to the many committee meetings or social gatherings where no one is interested in anyone but themselves.

Change is on the way when Angela notices a young man in the garden.  Ross would call the police insisting on his removal...they don't pay taxes for drifters to endanger them or their property...but Angela doesn't do anything, she is fascinated by his self confidence. He has possession of himself, a surety whereas she has none.  What follows is an intense relationship with some pretty heated sex scenes between Angela and her lover which I felt uncomfortable about to begin with. I'd worried, needlessly, that such an emotive plot line was going to descend into a tasteless porn romance. Nothing wrong with 'pornance' except it wouldn't have been in keeping with the start of this book. The sex scenes were tastefully, and sensually written and showed the evolvement of their relationship perfectly. It is within the realms of her relationship with Daniel that Angela encounters an unknown depth of feeling and desire for, and from another, and where the seeds for her empowerment and personal transformation grow.

There is such an elegance and beauty to Legters' style of writing as illustrated here when Angela is comparing Ross' hands to that of her lovers:

"Daniel’s hands are thin, and the skin also fine-grained; she would have expected a carpenter’s hands to be rough and worn, with a callous or two on the palm. Instead, when he touches her, it’s almost as if he weren’t touching her at all; she has the impression of air, and peace.
Ross’s hands have become wide and heavy and obvious. If they grope her in the dark,she stays still, pretending they can’t wake her."

As for Ross, has he not provided Angela with everything 'they' could possibly ever want?  Ross is infuriating in his insensitivity to Angela's needs and her desires, in dismissing them as petty and unimportant.  He doesn't take anything she says seriously and disregards her almost to the point of not listening to her at all.  She'd loved this cherry tree...

"Ross had said the cherries dropping stained the flagstone. She came home one day to a stump. She’d loved its blossoms; their first spring in the house, she took a dozen pictures of them, and had one framed for the study. Ross said the flagstones were more important, and that he hadn’t known she cared about it. He never apologized."
...Ross never apologises for his actions.

One compromise that Ross had made at the start of their marriage, reluctantly, was to keep a treasured wicker chair Angela had since childhood.  Even so, she was still made to feel silly about wanting to keep such a valueless in evidence here:

"The wicker chair is the one thing from her childhood...She spent hours in it growing up, reading, dreaming."...“Let someone have it who really needs it.” When she told him she needed it, ...he said, “doesn’t wicker belong out of doors?” She reminded him that he’d have plenty from the house where he grew up...“Yes, valuable antiques...” “Ross.” He gave in, ..."Beginning with that conversation, nearly everything she wanted gradually became too much work to gain, and so she gave in to more and more, telling herself all these petty things didn’t matter."

His incomprehension as to why Angela should be so ungrateful or unhappy within their marriage frustrated me no end. It was all too easy for me to think that Ross was all deserving of his wife's infidelity. However, even with such an intense dislike of him, that moral part of me still felt he was as much a victim as his wife and entitled to be told the truth. Alas, real life isn't that way so why should it be for him.

Overall, Vanishing Point is a stylishly written literary tale about a woman so conditioned over time to feel undeserving of attention or real consideration in any way that her reaction is to compromise, and comply in order to save others from their own fragility, and of how as a disillusioned housewife she acts out of impulsiveness to embark on an illicit affair.

Fans of Richard Yates' Revolutionary Road, and Bernard Schlink's The Reader, will undoubtedly savour this one.

About E.V. Legters

Vanishing Point is E.V. Legters’ second novel. Her first, Connected Underneath, published under her given name, Linda, instead of her chosen name, E.V., was released last year and is an INDIE Press Book of the Year finalist. Born in the far western reaches of New York State, and a long-time resident of Connecticut, E.V. is exploring new venues in which to finish her third. She is currently in Portugal.

TLC Tour Stops

Thursday, May 11th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, May 18th: SJ2B House Of Books
Monday, May 22nd: Sweet Southern Home
Monday, May 29th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, May 31st: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
Tuesday, June 6th: Books and Bindings

Find out more at website.


lml said...

Hello House of Books: Thanks for this comprehensive and thoughtful review. It's not a book for the faint of heart! E.V. Legters

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Even just reading this review has my heart aching for Angela ... what a sad, depressing situation she found herself in.

Thanks for being a part of the tour!

trish said...

I don't know why, but I eat up heavy, depressing books like this! I think because I feel like we really show our true colors when we're at our lowest, and I can often see a part of myself in an author's characters.