SOLO by Emily Barr


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Cellist dumps hubby and tries for celebrity singledom, only to be chased by doubt, her past and a stalker.

Barr may have done all she could with the backpacker genre (Cuba, 2003, etc.) so it’s not surprising that she’s upgrading (or downgrading) to mildly suspenseful chick-lit. The main problem here is that the suspenseful elements that served her well in previous travelogue fiction are ratcheted up to such a ludicrous extent that her novel’s soil has been left rather bare and thin. Thirty-year-old Evie Silverman is a cellist of the pop sort—the kind who always appears somewhat undressed on her album photo and makes sure to cover pop tunes as well as the classical staples. And she’s quite well known for it (“I am classical lite, through and through”), so it’s to Fleet Street’s delight when she rather brusquely dumps her husband after a well-received concert. Evie wastes no time moving into a new apartment, with a rather mousy and worshipful roommate, and making the party rounds, making sure that she’s photographed about town in her favorite outfits. Just when her life is looking pretty peachy (her boyfriend is an 18-year-old pop star who follows her around puppy-doglike), though, Evie starts getting threatening stalker letters, anonymous of course. Wherein follows a lengthy jaunt to New York for a publicity tour, more letters, an agonizingly dull stretch about her best friend’s attempt to be artificially impregnated, and a rather ridiculous denouement involving a secret from Evie’s past and a laughably villainous high-school enemy. Barr quite definitively shows the limitations of her craft, as she takes a promisingly tart beginning and continually waters it down with verbiage, opaque motivations, subpar suspense and a narrative as focused on the inner life of its amazingly narcissistic heroine as she is on herself.

Initially fun, but shot and left for dead by a ludicrous pseudothriller angle.

Pub Date: May 31st, 2005
ISBN: 0-452-28536-4
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Plume
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2005


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