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Review: The Gin Closet

March 6, 2010

When Stella goes to visit her Grandmother Lucy for Christmas, she finds her on the kitchen floor, where she’d fallen earlier in the day.  As Stella was helping her up, Lucy says, “I need Matilda.”  Stella has never heard of anyone named Matilda and asks her brother if he knows who Matilda is.

Seeing that her grandmother needs help, Stella decides to spend every other night with her, helping to take care of her.  While she’s taking care of her grandmother, Stella discovers that Matilda is her mother’s sister and is curious as to why she’s never before heard of her aunt.  When Lucy passes away, Stella offers to deliver a letter to Matilda to let her know of the death of her mother, thus beginning their tenuous relationship.

The Gin Closet by Leslie Jamison is the story of a family’s dysfunction and the struggles of two members of that family to form a family of their own.  The story is told in alternating viewpoints by Stella and Tilly (Matilda), so sometimes you get the same story told twice.  Jamison tackles some tough issues, many of which will make the reader uncomfortable, in this beautifully written book.  It’s hard to believe this is her debut novel.

I was drawn into this book right from the start.  I was really curious about who Tilly was and wanted to know her story.  The story mostly focuses on Tilly and at times I wanted to know more about Stella’s background, so I would know how she got to be in this place in her life.  Tilly’s life is sad and she really frustrated me at times, yet my heart broke for her.  The ending of the book left me sad and reflective.  Overall, for me, this was a good (but not great) solid read.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.   I am an Amazon Associate.
34 Comments leave one →
  1. March 6, 2010 5:51 am

    I love your book review. I would like to read this one. I think the book, the plot, is much deeper than the title. I love stories told from different points of view.

  2. March 6, 2010 6:08 am

    Whoops, sorry I had forgotten about “alcoholism.” No wonder the title is “The Gin Closet.” I really would like to read this one.

  3. March 6, 2010 6:09 am

    This does sound interesting. I admit being drawn to stories about unknown family members.

  4. March 6, 2010 6:45 am

    I like stories of family dynamics, so I’ll keep my eye on this.

  5. March 6, 2010 7:55 am

    This sounds like it would make for a great discussion books. I always like crazy family dynamics — maybe it makes me feel more normal.

  6. March 6, 2010 8:35 am

    I can’t wait to read this one. For some reason, I’m drawn to books about dysfunctional families. What does that say about me? LOL

  7. March 6, 2010 8:49 am

    I had been wondering about this book as I like stories about dysfunctional families. Sorry about the sad ending…I prefer when your left with hope.

  8. March 6, 2010 9:00 am

    That sounds like a good one. It does sound like one that would hook me from the beginning.

  9. March 6, 2010 9:05 am

    I recently bought a book titled SCATTERSHOT: MY BIPOLAR FAMILY and although the premise is different, the theme is the same i.e. family. I’m glad this book draws you in from the start.

  10. March 6, 2010 9:25 am

    I think this one sounds interesting. I do believe though that I would need to anchor it between two more cheerful books. I can’t take too much sorrow, especially in books one right after another. 🙂

  11. March 6, 2010 1:27 pm

    This book sounds really good and so sad – it kind of sounds a little like the book Evening. At any rate, I think I might have to give it a try!

  12. March 6, 2010 2:06 pm

    This sounds like something I would enjoy. It’s definitely going on my TBR list. Great review!

  13. March 6, 2010 9:13 pm

    This sounds like a book I would enjoy. I especially like the alternating points of view as I think you can better understand the characters.

  14. March 6, 2010 10:56 pm

    Why am I always drawn to books about dysfunction? Even though this only rated a “good read” from you it still sounds like a worthwhile way to spend some time!

  15. March 6, 2010 11:20 pm

    It sure sounds good. I am really drawn to books like this.

  16. March 7, 2010 9:08 am

    I must admit that based on the title alone, I would not have picked up this book. However, after reading your review I am very anxious to read about the family dynamics and relationship difficulties these characters face.

  17. March 7, 2010 10:09 am

    This sounds like a really sad book, I’m going to have to read this when I’m feeling a bit melancholy.

  18. March 7, 2010 12:09 pm

    gorgeous, thank you. this sounds like my kind of novel, and I love the cover.

  19. kadybug permalink
    March 7, 2010 5:43 pm

    I enjoy reading books that explore familial relationships. This one looks good!

  20. March 7, 2010 8:36 pm

    I haven’t heard of this book and it sounds like an interesting book about family secrets and dysfunction.

  21. March 7, 2010 9:19 pm

    I’m not sure if this is a read I would enjoy. I did enjoy your review though.

  22. March 7, 2010 9:36 pm

    Sounds like an interesting book – thanks for the review! I like the title, too.

  23. Murhl Blessing permalink
    March 8, 2010 8:15 am

    Thanks for the review. I think I will read this book. I usually like books that are written from more then one view point or about mysterious family relationships.

  24. March 8, 2010 12:36 pm

    I like the way you set this one up so I have to read it. Now I have to find out the rest of the story. It does remind me of a book I read last year where the sister had been kept in a “insane assylum” and no one in the family talked about her so the children never knew they had an aunt.

  25. March 8, 2010 1:27 pm

    I have to admit, the title caught my attention, although I was thinking..who wants gin when you can have some good Jameson whiskey? lol! It sounds like a pretty good story, one to add to my wish list for a rainy day.

  26. March 8, 2010 1:38 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting book with a lot of ground to cover.

  27. March 8, 2010 3:45 pm

    This sounds like a book that would really interest me. Your review was wonderfully detailed about all the emotions that the book made you feel, and I think I am going to put this one on my list. Great review!

  28. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 8, 2010 5:27 pm

    Looks like a solid debut novel. I’m going to see if my library has it.

  29. justicejenniferreads permalink
    March 8, 2010 6:25 pm

    I’ll look into reading this one. It sounds like a pretty decent and worthwhile read.

  30. March 9, 2010 4:29 pm

    I’m drawn to the cover of this one. Plus I like dysfunctional family stories. I might read this one.

  31. March 9, 2010 4:39 pm

    That sounds like an interesting book. I was initially captivated by its cover. Nice to see that the book is interesting as well!

  32. March 16, 2010 9:57 pm

    I have read some really great reviews on this one, particularly about the writing.

  33. March 17, 2010 2:57 pm

    This sounds like an amazing family story, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  34. June 8, 2010 7:13 am

    I recently saw this while browsing at Borders. It sounds like a good book, although it’s not a light read. Family dynamics interest me, so I immediately added it to my TBR list. Thanks for the review.

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