Life Sentences By Laura Lippman

This is a novel I found in the ‘reduced section’ several years ago and has sat on my shelve for several years since. I had never heard of Laura Lippman, and only picked this novel up because of the low price and I’ll admit it, I liked the cover, though now I have seen that this style of cover – the jar and butterfly.

Life Sentences focuses on Cassandra. An award winning author for her memoirs but has failed at her recent attempt at fiction. She now must rectify this and begins on a journey into the mystery of an old classmate – Callie – who had been incarcerated for the murder of her son. This investigation leads Cassandra on a journey into the past in which she learns more about herself than anything else.

Looking on I found very discouraging reviews of this novel, but I think part of this may be due to the to the difference in style for Laura Lippman’s other books, though I have not read these, it is the sense I get from the fore mentioned reviews.

At the beginning I felt there was a lot of promise for this novel but the further through I got the more I felt it detracted from the overall premise defined at the beginning. The changing of perspectives were distracting and confusing and didn’t add to the plot overall. I find novels that do this interesting as long as only a maximum of three perspectives are used – unless these changes are made clear by headings – else it gets too confusing.

The writing was very good, as were the ideas, but due to the issues I had I managed to read the novel and miss entirely the point at which Cassandra find out how flawed her memories were and now have to go back and re-read parts to work this out.

The characters were well written and you can tell that Laura Lippman had thought about them to a great extent and created profiles which went into great depth about their histories and their personalities.

I can only give this novel 2.5 out of 5. I feel bad doing so as I enjoyed the book but the confusion and distraction from the overall plot really affects my overall opinion of the novel.


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