Sunday, May 17, 2009

Review: The Four Corners of the Sky by Michael Malone

The first six years of Annie Peregrine's life were non-stop motion and excitement, but not really the good kind. She spent those years with her father, Jack, a small time con man who was constantly in trouble. They were permanently on the road and more than once had to skip whatever town they were in at a moment's notice. Not a great life for a little girl.

On Annie's seventh birthday Jack drives her to his childhood home in Emerald, North Carolina: Pilgrim's Rest. There he abruptly leaves her with his sister, Sam, a lesbian who runs the local video store and her best friend, pediatrician Clark Goode, who lives with her. With his parting words Jack gives Annie his old Piper Warrior airplane as a birthday gift.

So, things settle down and Annie has a fairly normal childhood. Sam and Clark adopt her and the three form a loving family. But Annie has a driving need for perfection in every thing she does and she pushes herself, physically and mentally, to be the best. She learns to fly on that old plane and becomes a Navy pilot. She impetuously marries a fellow pilot, Brad, and then files for divorce when she catches him in bed with someone else.

That's where things stand when, on her 26th birthday, she returns to Pilgrim's Rest and finds an envelope from her father. He claims to be dying and wants her help. It seems that he has had a stolen statue, The Queen of the Sea, for years. He has removed most of the precious gems that were on the statue and hidden them all over the place. He sends Annie on what basically amounts to a scavenger hunt to recover the statue and the gems that go with it. She agrees, on one condition. Jack has never told her who her mother really is (her birth certificate says her mother is Claudette Colbert) and she will help him in exchange for her mother's name.

As Annie goes after Jack, who is always a step ahead and remains as elusive as ever, she begins a search that will change her in ways she cannot imagine.

Up until the end, I really enjoyed this novel. The mystery of the statue and the suspense of the search were exciting and action-packed. There are flash backs woven in that serve to fill in the background and extend the drama. I thought the characters were interesting and the bonds of their relationships felt sweet and true. They were well rounded and flawed in various ways which made them all the more lovable.

I just couldn't understand the ending. I'm trying to avoid spoilers here so I will just say that Annie comes across some astounding information and then...nothing. She doesn't mention it beyond a couple of cryptic comments, doesn't explain her thinking or feelings to the reader. Doesn't do what any average person would do with that revelation. Maybe that is the point, but I am totally flummoxed by it. I kept expecting the information to be talked about, or thought about, or SOMETHING. I feel like I'm not sharp enough to figure out why the author did this, or that I totally misunderstood and got it wrong. Argh.

I wish I had read this one in a book club, I would love to discuss it!

At any rate, after that you will want some additional reviews, I'm sure! So here they are:

At Home With Books
Savvy Verse and Wit
Diary of an Eccentric
Review from Here
A Bookworm's World
Books are My Only Friends
Library Queue

The Four Corners of the Sky is published by Sourcebooks. ISBN 978-1-57071-744-4


Toni said...

Sounds like a good worries on the end of the book info.. it only makes me want to read more. Thanks for the review.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Nice review, Carey. I've got a review of this one written, but think I'll wait a couple weeks to post it. You did a good job of capturing an essence here!

bermudaonion said...

The reviews for this book seem to be all over the place. I guess the ending is throwing everyone.

Alyce said...

I'm glad that you liked the book overall. I thought it was a little bit frustrating to read, so maybe that's why the ending didn't phase me (I was already iffy about the rest of the book).

Beth F said...

I'll keep this one in mind. I might suggest it to my neighbor who is always looking for good book club reads.

Literary Feline said...

This does sound like an interesting book. It's too bad the end didn't quite live up to the rest of it.

Zibilee said...

Sounds like it started off well, but ended up being disappointing. Sorry to hear that it didn't follow through. I might take a chance on it anyways...sometimes I love an inconclusive ending.

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I didn't finish this one. I thought it was bogged down with way too many details and info.

Thank you!!

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About Me

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.