It’s Got to be the Russians

My Own by Joan Hohl is a very strange book. Not only does Hohl use word ‘mauve’ to describe 80% of the colors in the book, the blurb on the back of the book covers the events of the story up to page 297 of 314. So you could say that Nora Robert’s endorsement on the front (“a compelling storyteller”) is a total fallacy. (Not to mention that she’s probably too busy writing these books to actually read many.)

For reference, this one’s a 16, 20, and a 23 (twice! with different women, no less!).

Other strange parts of the plot include:

  1. The heroine smokes! She smokes! (Not much, admittedly, and she feels wretchedly guilty, but still. She hoards cigarettes and then smokes them – stale – in times of great stress.)
  2. The heroine, a teacher, lands the perfect teaching situation: a local school, the very same one that her stepsisters go to. When she’s just out of college. Feel free to snort derisively. I did. Someone pass me a tissue?
  3. Homophobia! A male friend is speculated to be gay (he turns out not to be); the reaction to this is mildly ambiguous, but clear enough for me not to read more from this author.
  4. Miss Family Woman doesn’t invite this same male friend inside after a date, because she makes the assumption that he will want sex, and that she will have to fight him off; she also thinks that her nonvirginal status makes her “tarnished.” (Seriously??)
  5. Miss Stale Butt references her biological clock in a state of worry. She’s 26. I’m 26! (AAAAAAAAAAAH!)
  6. The happy couple decide to move into her roomy house, into the bedroom of her dead parents, one of whom had died extremely recently. This isn’t so bad, except. Well. Here’s how Miss Kindergarten Teacher describes it: “’It holds very good memories. David and my mother were very happy in that room’” – at which point you’d think she’d stop. Nope – “’Mandy and Connie were conceived there’” (282).WHAT. WHAT.

    WHAT???

  7. A reference to the time 4 a.m., on page 313. I mention this only because it’s one of my favorite things, like, ever. You can get to it here – but know there’s also a second part that makes the first part somehow even better.

If you couldn’t tell already, this book is aggressively deplorable. It’s not just the plot or the characters or the horrifying ways in which people are characterized, it’s also the editing.

The following weeks were busy one for Kate, so full that she was only occasionally tempted to indulge in her secret vice, like when Mandy innocently related some trivial bit of information Mrs. Winston mentioned about Ethan, and the night she woke aching and yearning from an erotic dream about him. (84)

It can’t be saved. Pull the tube. Please.

Kate Lay awake long into the nights, agonizing over how to break off with him in the gentlest possible way. (255)

That’s the second miscapitalized L in the book. How was that not caught by the word processor? Mine is going off like a slot machine in the hands of a capable octogenarian.

I rest, nearly defeated, at the end of this book. It’s like the first draft went straight to print. However, my skin crawls at the merest whiff of the possibility, so I reject it. There must be another explanation. And then it comes to me:

The champagne flowed like wine. (289)

Does that sound like code to you?

It does, doesn’t it.

You don’t have to say anything.

We’re all thinking it.

The Russians are communicating via romance novels.

If I am never heard from again, someone please explain this to my cat. She’ll be incensed.

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