Update: Congrats to Julianne from Outlandish Lit, the giveaway winner!
Book: The Conditions of Love
Author: Dale M Kushner
Source: Free from publisher, part of the TLC tour
Genre: Literary Fiction
Readability Rating: 4 stars
Morality Rating: R (some explicit sexual content)
Target Audience: Women
Buy it: Amazon
The Conditions of Love Summery
The Conditions of Love follows young Eunice in her journey from child to adult. She must deal with issues like an absentee father, mother who is a little batty, and her own issues with sensuality and spirituality. Starting in 1953, The Conditions of Love follows Eunice from her hometown of rural Wisconsin to her disconnection with her mother, and an eventual affair with an older man (not as a 10 year old, but when she is about 18). The Conditions of Love is a book that takes a half-fabled, half-realistic look at a girl’s way of dealing with physical and emotional pain.
About the Author
Dale M. Kushner is a poet and writer. Her work has been widely published in literary journals including IMAGE, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Salmagundi, Witness, Fifth Wednesday and elsewhere. Her most recent poetry collection More Alive Than Lions Roaring was a finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award at Utah State Press and The Prairie Schooner Book Competition. In 2010 she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Ms. Kushner has studied at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich and has an ongoing interest in Buddhism and spiritual life. She lives with her husband in Madison, Wisconsin. The Conditions of Love is her first novel.
Connect with Dale at her website, dalemkushner.com.
This book of fast-paced literary fiction about the coming-of-age of a young girl reminded me of the sort of book that wins awards. It is extremely emotional, full of vibrancy, and offers a harsh look at some of the realities of life that other novels shy away from. I am not surprised that Conditions of Love was nominated for a TLA Lariat Award for Outstanding Adult Fiction in 2013; I am surprised that this book is Ms. Kushner’s first.
Plot: The plot of this story follows a girl named Eunice in the late 1950s as she grows from little girl to young woman. The book sort of focuses on the men who flit in and out of her life- but the main focus is on the relationship between Eunice and her mother (and other influencing women in her life)- and how Eunice is afraid to become her mother, and sort of does in the end, but ends up being okay with it. I liked that the plot had a sort of hidden current underneath the events in the story the “conditions of love” that the book is named after- about how most love, no matter what side it is on, is usually somewhat conditional.
Characters: This book was definitely a character-driven story. Eunice is the main character, obviously, but others are huge in the book as well- including Sam, her mother, Fox, Rose, and even her pet turtle. I thought all of the characters well well developed and felt realistic.
Setting: This book is set in the late 1950s and early 60s, which is a period I know nothing about other than from history (obviously). As far as the feeling of the book went, it sort of felt nostalgic- as if the entire book took place in sepia tone. I read that Ms. Kushner was involved in poetry before writing this book, and you can definitely see bits of poetic expression in the setting. The entire book felt sort of dream-like, but by the end of the story we realize that it is meant to be, since the last bits of the book are written from a much later period.
Writing: I’m not a huge fan of this sort of literary style. I’m not sure why- everything is excellently done, but books written in this style never really “gel” with me, I guess. Something about them makes it feel like the book is trying too hard to be a “literary” book. But obviously this is a style that is great for millions of readers as most classic contemporary novels are written in this style.
I did find the sex scenes a tad ridiculous and romance novel-esque. I think a lot of readers love sex scenes like this, but I found myself thinking, “really?” throughout most of them, which is probably why I’m not a huge fan of explicit romance novels. It just all feels so theatrical, particularly those “romance novel words” used to describe body parts. But, that’s just personal opinion, of course! 🙂
I really liked the character sketches of all the characters and the evolution of Eunice as a person as she aged. I thought the tone of the entire book was nostalgic and perfect for a novel set over 50 years ago. I could have done without the detailed sex scenes, but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit, right?
Who Should Read This Book
Women who love intricate romance stories and character-driven books.
Buy the book.
Guess what? You have the chance to win your very own copy of The Conditions of Love! How to enter? Simply subscribe to the Daily Mayo e-mail list and leave a comment here saying you’ve subscribed! Open to US residents only.
Contest closes May 31st 2014.