Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On Tour and a Giveaway: A Desire Path by Jan Shapin

What makes women fall for men who are tied to political causes? “It’s called a desire path,” she said, indicating a trace of beaten earth that disappeared into the woods. “A landscaping term my mother used. Not ‘shortcut’ — that implies convenience. Desire is rarely a convenience.”

Set in the Depression and WWIIs aftermath, A Desire Path traces a love affair between Ilse, a New England housewife, and Andy, an itinerant union organizer who has grown disillusioned by the infighting in the nation’s capital. Ilse’s husband, Leo, a powerful Washington lawyer, retaliates by destroying Andy’s livelihood. Still in love with him, Anna Mae, a journalist friend of Andy’s, returns from Moscow to tend an increasingly senile father only to confront the horrific past that first prompted her escape to the Soviet Union.

Over the years Ilse witnesses Anna Mae’s flailing adherence to Communist doctrine, even as she comes to see her own marriage as so much empty dogma. She rediscovers her love for Andy and the tension builds as she attempts to break free of Leo’s domination. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

My thoughts about A Desire Path ~~

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I guess it wasn't what I was expecting but once I wrapped my head around that, I was able to get into the story.

The story basically takes place in the 30's and 40's, the Depression era and WWII times. There are three main characters, Anna Mae, Ilse, and Andy with Ilse's husband Leo thrown in there a bit too. The story is broken up into 3 sections and each section is told from the point of view of one of the main characters. I loved the way the author wrote the story that way. It was interesting getting different perspectives on the same situations that they each lived through. So we first get to know Andy, then Anna Mae, and then Ilse and learn each one's take on what was happening.

I would have to say that Anna Mae evoked the strongest emotion from me - could not stand that woman! Very self-centered and conniving. I really liked Ilse but wished she could have been a little bit stronger so that she could have gotten what she wanted out of life, instead of always living in Leo's shadow.

The parts of the story that were hard for me were the sections written about the history of Unions in the United States and the Communist doctrine, here in the US and in the Soviet Union. This is not a negative reflection on the author or the story. I just sort of glossed over history in school, it was not one of my favorite subjects. I do have to say that I did learn quite a bit, it's just that I enjoyed the more personal story lines better.

Jan is a very good writer and wrote a interesting story. I think anyone who knows anything about what was going on in the early days of union organizing and the McCarthy era will enjoy this story. It puts a personal spin on that part of history.

About the author

Jan Shapin has been writing plays and screenplays for over twenty years. More recently she has turned her attention to fiction. She has studied playwriting at Catholic University in Washington, DC, screenwriting at the Film and Television Workshop and University of Southern California, and fiction writing at a variety of locations including Brown University, Barnard's Writers on Writing seminar, Sewanee Writers' Conference and Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. She has two grown children and lives in Newport, RI with her husband, a photographer.

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  1. Susan - I’m so pleased you enjoyed A Desire Path, even though you are not a history buff. I also found Anna Mae maddening (although interesting—at least her life was interesting) and Ilse very sympathetic. So many women find themselves in her situation, afraid to take control of her life and not even sure what she wants. I think her attraction to Andy stemmed, in part, from her sense that it would never work as a full time arrangement and thus she didn’t have to choose.
    I’m also delighted that you are giving the book away. Let’s hope there is some reader out there who does like history and will enjoy this one on all levels. My thanks for participating in the TLC book tour.
    Jan Shapin, author of A Desire Path

  2. I'm glad to see you enjoyed this one even though it wasn't quite what you expected.

    Thanks for being on the tour.


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