Review: The Foretelling - Alice Hoffman
by Alice Hoffman
Read From: Apr. 9, 2012 - Apr. 10, 2012
Before starting this book, I had two thoughts: Either this book is going to be surprisingly good, or I'm going to really dislike it. Well, I didn't end up really disliking it, but I certainly didn't love it, either. Or even really like it. Stories of sisterhood kind of nauseate me to begin with because they are more often than not lectures against men, and all of the female characters have major chips on their shoulders and the "I-can-beat-anyone" attitude. I'll give the Author this: her women were believable. They seemed like tough Germanic women - the type that the Romans wrote about as being fiercer fighters than the male warriors. The type of women which the Romans absolutely did not want to fight. So, thumbs up to the Author for getting that right.
But. That's where my praise pretty much ends. I didn't care about any of the characters, least of all Rain. She didn't irritate me, but I didn't care what happened to her. In trying to make her story span several years without making it as thick as The Bible, the Author failed to really acquaint her Readers with any of the characters. Oh, you get the sense that Rain questions her tribe's ways and her own doubt, and you get the sense that Rain's mother is a bitter woman, but that element which makes Readers attach to a character simply wasn't there. I didn't feel Rain's grief, joy, anger, frustration, determination, or confusion at any point in the story.
The Author also pumped her story with more content than was certainly necessary. While she does not detail any of the sexual occurrences, she takes every opportunity she can to mention what women do with the men they take in battle. For one thing, the Reader could come to this conclusion through their own assumptions without the Author even having to ever mention it. And for another, the Author did not need to mention the ritual every bloody time a battle was finished. We got it the first time! And then, of course, there's the fact that some women in Rain's tribe are not beyond sharing each other's beds. The Author does not spend as much time in mentioning this as I at first thought she might, but even so it got more than a little tiring every time Rain brought up how her mother had "taken a lover."
Writing style was partially okay and partially irritating. Normally I like stories with very little dialogue and scant descriptions. But here is a story that could have used more detail and a lot more dialogue. The Author also did something that really annoyed me: whenever one of the characters talked, there were no quotation marks. Instead, the dialogue was all in Italics. That's usually reserved for when a character is thinking, last time I checked. Call it a minor pet peeve, but it just got on my nerves. I started thinking that the characters were all telepathic!
The book ends where it seems that the actual story should have begun: Rain begun the change the way of her tribe, while those who do not want to follow her new ways have separated. Seems to me that these events would have made a more interesting story than Rain's coming-of-age litany.