Donnerstag, 14. November 2013

[English] Book Review: Blind Man's Bluff (Kay Stockham)


Can you love someone and still be free? Emma Wyatt agrees to tutor a recently blinded, embittered soldier because of the $50,000 paycheck his brother offers. Blind herself, Emma dreams of independence and freedom away from her overprotective family. But when she's attracted to her student, she fears falling for him means giving up her dreams.

Can you protect someone who you cannot see? Good soldiers show no weakness. Ian MacGregor holds his battle with claustrophobia close to his chest, unsuccessfully trying to cope on his own. He's lost in the dark and struggling to accept his fate. Ian knows duty, honor and service to his country. Ian's desire for Emma is overshadowed by the danger lurking around them. Emma would be better off with someone else. Someone sighted. Someone able to protect her from the person determined to keep them apart.

"Blind Man's Bluff is a book that grabs hold of your heartstrings and keeps you turning the pages until you sigh with contentment at the end. Strong characters; a fabulous story! In my opinion, you can't go wrong. A definite keeper." (Best-selling Author Catherine Anderson).

"Kay Stockham's stories are at once sweet and sexy, deeply emotional, and sprinkled lightly with suspense for good measure. Everything you could want in a book and more." (Award-winning author Toni Blake)

To put it upfront: I love this book, and that's despite one or two things I don't love about it, but I won't mention those here (no spoilers).

It feels strangely difficult to write a review for this, but I'll try. In my mind, and for this blog, there are two ways of looking at this story: one is as a book about blind people, the other as what it really is: a romance with a touch of drama, tragedy, adventure, mystery (a tad too obvious for my taste), some basic life lessons, and a few other things.

Let's start with the "blind" angle. On this count, this book is outstanding. The female lead, Emma Wyatt, is the best depiction of a fictional blind person I've ever come across. And I mean it. Both in her own life, and in her interaction with her recently blinded male counterpart Ian, the description of her abilities and limitations is both highly detailed and stunningly accurate, down to her fears and anxieties. No nonsense, saying it like it is, or like it can be, if somebody really puts their back into it. And since we frequently accompany Emma in her efforts to teach the newly blinded Ian some TDL, R&R /no pun intended - okay, you'll get that one later) and mobility, there may also be a few things to be learned from this book.

As for the story itself, it had a strange effect on me. Reading this book. I saw a movie. Literally. Kay Stockham is painting vivid and detailed pictures in front of my inner eye, which is a rare thing with me. This is at least in part owed to the fact, that much of the story and it's characters are maybe a little stereotypical some people will probably call them clichés. But it's also owed to the author's outstanding talent in describing people, scenary, and all the other parts of the picture, often substituting lengthy descriptions with the tiniest detail to tap into our visual memory (yep, I'm adventitiously blind), making the scene come alive right in front of us.

Okay, it may not be the greatest piece of literature ever written, and maybe it's a little corny at times, but it's something so much more important: it's thoroughly enjoyable. And before you jump to any conclusions: I normally hate love stories, and this is only the third one I ever read (the other two were R&J and, well, "Love Story").

A big part of my enjoyment is also owed to Debbie Andreen's amazing reading of this book. She gives every participant their own distinct personality, and lends the most charming voice you've ever heard to Emma, making me fall in love with her on the spot.

Did I just say that? Nah, I'd never say something that sentimental.

Speaking of sentiment: I'll give you one spoiler, which may make it more enjoyable for you: yes, this book has a happy ending. All the way. For once, a modern writer withstood the modern need to make every story drown in death and tragedy in the last chapter, and she sends you to bed with a big smile on your face.

Did I just say that?


Okay, I'd better shut up now. Just read the darn thing. And let me know what you think. Like it? Corny? Balmy? Brilliant? Leave a comment!

P.S. A little warning for parents: while being rather educational in terms of dealing with blindness, this book is what the p.c. websites call "explicit" (and not because of expletives). Read it for yourself first, decide after. That may save you the need for some creative rhethorical meneouvering during breakfast.

"Blind Man's Bluff" in the Audible Webshop

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