Okay, let’s be honest – this review is only going to interest you if you’re an Outlander fan. Which you SHOULD be, because the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is probably one of the greatest things ever written in the history of the universe.
The Space Between is a novella / short story that was recently published in an anthology The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination. I’m not a big one for short stories or anthologies, so I borrowed this book from the library just to read Gabaldon’s story. It’s also featured in A Trail of Fire (a book of four Outlander and Lord John related short stories), which hasn’t been released in the US yet but is available in the UK.
Anyways, The Space Between is about Michael Murray escorting Joan MacKenzie to Paris, where she plans to join a convent. This is taking place at the same time as the end of An Echo in the Bone, so you should probably only read it if you’re up-to-date on the Outlander series. Michael is grieving for his dead wife and another family member, and Joan is trying to escape some things she doesn’t understand. Events take place, which I can’t mention here (it’s surprising how many spoilers are in an 82-page story), but it DEFINITELY gives a lot of food for thought. I’m wondering now if we’ll see more of Michael and Joan’s stories in book #8 (hopefully to be out late this year) and if so, how much events there will affect Jamie and Claire’s main storyline. Just a hint – Master Raymond appears in this story. I find Raymond SOOOOO intriguing, so this was very exciting. I now have a million questions, but that’s to be expected from such a little teaser.
Shopgirl is about Mirabelle, a young woman in her twenties who works the glove counter at Neiman’s in L.A. She’s bored, struggling financially, and has what seems like a drastic case of depression. Always wishing for company and for someone to hold her, she attracts the attention of a lazy guy named Jeremy and a womanizing millionaire from Seattle named Ray Porter.
I felt kind of bored with this book… I’m not sure what it is. I didn’t really care for any of the characters. I have a hard time relating to characters with depression in books – it always comes off as whiny and emo and makes me want to slap them out of their funk. And obviously I had issues with both of the men that were attracted to her.
I think another reason I was kind of bored was Steve Martin’s writing here. I really enjoyed his book The Pleasure of My Company – it was fresh and interesting and witty. But in Shopgirl, it’s almost like I could tell how aware he was of his writing style – it all sounded too clinical and distant. The blatant sexual references seemed like they were just there to kind of shock and awe. Maybe it’s just me, but I missed Steve Martin’s quirkiness and sharp wit here – the whole thing was overall kind of bland and dark. Weirdly, the only parts of the book I really liked was when Mirabelle mentioned exactly how much she could afford to spend on lunch, or parking. I have that same sense of frugalness when I’m getting my lunch at work sometimes.
Overall, I didn’t really like this one. But I will probably try another Steve Martin book because I liked the other one I read, so I feel like I need a tie-breaker.