“What a fascinating turn of events for her rather ordinary life. She’d found a friend — an unexpected treasure. She waved at the door self-consciously before dropping her hand to her side, then placed the letter in the mailbox and slowly made her way home.”
I bought this book without really knowing anything about it, but the cover called out to me. The yellow is a lot nicer in person than this picture, and the flowers are raised up slightly from the cover – it’s really pretty. I was also intrigued by the book’s description, which promised me a time-travel adventure with some charming characters. Annie Aster buys a mysterious door in an antique shop in San Francisco, puts it in her backyard, and the next day amidst tons of roses that have appeared there, she finds a wheat field in her yard with a small cabin. The cabin belongs to Elsbeth Grundy who is an elderly retired schoolteacher in 1895. They can now communicate through letters in a brass letter box that has now also appeared on their newly shared property, trying to figure out why this happened, how they’re connected, and how they’re able to correspond with each other which of course ends up getting each of them into some serious trouble. You *know* I’m into that!
I unfortunately was not blown away by The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster. I think that the premise of the book was really great and had a ton of potential, but there were a LOT of characters here with a LOT of story lines that detracted from the main focus of the book. This can work sometimes but I just kept getting confused and having to go back to remember exactly where we were and what was happening. I wanted to know so much more about the essentials of time travel and how it worked in this book and did not need the side stories in place of that.
I also felt like a lot of the characters’ personalities and characteristics were a little overused – our heroine Annie loves Jane Austen, dresses in period clothing even though it’s 1995, and has a “rather obscure talent” of keeping her china set in flawless condition. This to me could have been any girl in any book and I felt like I had read it many times before. The same thing happened with almost every character that I encountered and it made things a little bit predictable for me.
I’m giving The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster 2.5 stars. I felt like there were so many wonderful ideas in this book that would have been better served as separate works rather than trying to fit everything into one. I would be interested to see what Wilbanks will choose to write about next.