Guests on Earth by Lee Smith Narrated by, Emily Woo Zeller
I enjoyed parts of this book and thought other parts (the ending especially) weren’t as good. I like the character of Evalina and my second favorite was Dixie, I felt these two were the most fleshed out of all the characters. However Evalina’s love life was confusing to me and I didn’t really understand her attraction to Pan and didn’t really understand why she was leading these men on. Also it was never fully explained how she ended up back at the hospital and what really happened to her in Paris and after she went to her father’s house again which is part of the "more" I mention later!
There were times the story jumps and it was jarring and made me feel like I missed something I went back on the audio a couple times thinking I zoned out and missed something but that wasn’t the case. This book starts out with the news report about the fire at the Ashland Hospital but when the time came for the fire it was rushed and very anti-climatic the story of the fire was in the last 9 minutes of the book, it was pretty much there was a fire and these people died, the end.
This book mixed real and fictional people including Zelda Fitzgerald, I am not a big F.Scott Fitzgerald fan so the inclusion of Zelda was just another famous person to me, I actually wanted to know more about Mrs.Carroll tutoring Nina Simone in music but that was just talked about in passing.
I guess what I wanted in the book was more, more info about the characters, more about the hospital which actually seemed like a very good institution especially for this time period. Of course the insulin shots and shock treatments were awful, but they mentioned that they were not doing lobotomies which is something, and these women do seem to have been treated well and not abused, plus given arty things to do singing, art, playing music etc. so this was a different look at institutions in this time period then I’d read before.
I recently re-read Maggie O’Farrell’s The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and now after reading this one I really wanted to know the various reasons women were institutionalized so I have now checked out the book ‘The Female Malady’ which explores some of the reasons women have been institutionalized throughout history. So in that aspect the book did its job it made me curious about why a lot of these women were put away.
Emily Woo Zeller was a good narrator although our lead character didn’t have a southern accent (and I thought she should) the only one that did was Dixie which was overdone but it did fit with Dixie’s personality she was very over the top herself. But overall she did a decent job and I would listen to her again.
At times this story bogged down and at other times I enjoyed the story so for me this is a 3 Star book barely 3 but 3 nonetheless.