2014.30 REVIEW – The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White

The Qualities of Wood
by Mary Vensel White

Copyright: 2012
Pages: 312
Rating: 3/5
Read: June 19-25, 2014
Challenge: No Challenge
Yearly count: 30
Format:  Print
Source: Publicist for Review
Series: N/A

The Qualities of WoodBlurb: When Betty Gardiner dies, leaving behind an unkempt country home, her grandson and his young wife take a break from city life to prepare the house for sale. Nowell Gardiner leaves first to begin work on his second mystery novel. By the time his wife Vivian joins him, a real mystery has begun: a local girl has been found dead in the woods behind the house. Even after the death is ruled an accident, Vivian can’t forget the girl, can’t ignore the strange behavior of her neighbors, or her husband. As Vivian attempts to put the house in order, all around her things begin to fall apart.

The Qualities of Wood is a novel about secrets. Family secrets. Community secrets. And secrets between lovers, past and present. And all of these secrets have their price.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free for review purposes, all opinions expressed below are my own.

When I was first pitched this book, it sounded really great. I was definitely excited about getting the chance to read and review it.

However, I was ultimately let down by this book. Maybe I had too high of hopes for it, I don’t know. But it didn’t end up being the book that I had hoped for. To bill this book as a “mystery” is not entirely correct in my opinion. Because there wasn’t much mystery at all in it. And I think that’s what I was disappointed in. When the blurb talks about a dead girl and secrets, I automatically think: mystery. But this book does not fit that bill.

The ending was extremely rushed. You had 300 pages of build-up to finally figure out what was really going on. Three hundred pages. And twelve pages of Vivian, Lonnie, and Nowell running around in the woods behind the house. I just expected more. I wanted more answers. I wanted Vivian to step up her game and really question Nowell with the revelations he made. I wanted more than I got.

Now, I will say this about the book, the writing was impeccable. It flowed so beautifully in places. The characters were all interesting in their own way. I keep coming back to the idea that maybe things were left the way they were to open the door for another meeting of Vivian and Nowell. I could definitely see them still in Grandma Gardiner’s house raising a few children. There could be plenty of material still there to explore with some of the holes in this book.

So there is definitely good points to this book and I would ultimately recommend it to other readers. However, if mystery/thrillers are your main thing, I don’t think it will necessarily work for you. But if you like literary fiction, this one will probably be a home run for you.

Overall, a good book, but not what I was hoping for.

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2 thoughts on “2014.30 REVIEW – The Qualities of Wood by Mary Vensel White

  1. This was a tough review for me to write. Because I felt like it was a little too negative at times. The book wasn’t bad, it really wasn’t. It just wasn’t what I was hoping for. I finished it with a sense of being let down. But at the same time, I know there’s going to be a lot of people who will really like it. I kind of got the feeling that maybe the author had certain directions she wanted to go in and then when she hit the 300 page mark she lost steam and wrapped it up. There was definitely potential, the execution just isn’t right for a mystery lover.

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