February 28, 2012

A Common Loss - Kirsten Tranter

I read Kirsten Tranter's debut novel, The Legacy, in 2010 and it was a hit for me. Even more so after meeting the author and hearing her talk about her process of writing fiction (why does this always seem to make a book or an author's body of work more appealing??).
Tranter's most recent novel, A Common Loss, follows a lot of the same themes as The Legacy, and like that book it also draws on a number of other literary inspirations but unfortunately for me it doesn't quite live up to the promise of the first book.
A Common Loss is set in the USA and tells the story of five friends who meet in college and continue a sometimes tentative and fraught friendship into their adult lives (Tranter talks about drawing on Donna Tartt's The Secret History in the formation of her novel). The main event for the group is the annual trip to Las Vegas where they enjoy the delights of that city while catching up on each others lives. As the book starts the group are planning their trip to Las Vegas but without one of their members who has died suddenly in the preceding year. It is the loss of this person that sparks a new dynamic within the friends - highlighting rifts, connections and secrets that were previously hidden.
Once again Tranter's writing style, characterisation and ability to weave a strong narrative captured me straight away - this is a book that you want to keep reading long into the night. The thing that didn't really capture me was the story itself - none of the characters were particularly likeable - and although this is something that doesn't normally bother me in a book for some reason it did with this one!
I would certainly recommend this book if you are looking for an engaging story that keeps you reading along but if you are looking for characters to connect with this might not be the book for you.


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