Readers' Favorite

April 24, 2012

Entertaining: Temptation

Temptation by Douglas Kennedy
ARC, 320 pages
Published April 2012 by Atria Books
ISBN13: 9781451602104
Read February 2012
Get it: Goodreads, IndieBound, Powell's Books, Amazon

From the opening line, you know something bad is going to happen. The entire time you are reading, you are just waiting for the "other shoe to drop". You know it will and can even see it coming, but you won't realize how bad it is until the shoe drops. And oh my what a huge shoe it is.

Douglas Kennedy is a wonderful storyteller. This book breezed by for me and I'm not a fast reader. I was worried because the chapters were so long, but it flowed so well that I would become totally immersed in the story.  

While reading Temptation I could never put my finger on why I was so drawn to it. When I read the summary and saw the cover of a previous edition, I thought it was a modernized The Great Gatsby. It does have a sheen of glamor that glosses the surface of the scandal. I'm not a Hollywood gossip tabloid reader, so I wasn't overly drawn to the scandal. And before you start thinking typical Hollywood scandal, let me stop you right there. David is a script writer, so not the celebrity scandal you think. However, he does possibly commit the worst crime a writer can (and no it wasn't killing off your favorite character). It is the type of crime that gets one blackballed.

The combination of Kennedy's excellent storytelling and relateable characters drew me to the story. Notice I didn't say likeable. Some of the characters aren't really likeable. And this might be a point I struggled with. I wanted to like David. I always root for the underdog and immediately I was rooting for David. But he cheats on his wife, that doesn't tend to be the kind of people I like. But I definitely didn't like his wife, which in a usual situation I would be on the wife's side. So my character loyalties were all topsy turvy.

While reading Temptation, I participated in a chat about whether a book needs a purpose other than entertainment. If you think about it, out of all the forms of entertainment, books are almost always thought to provide more than entertainment. Before reading Temptation, I would have said books expand one's horizon, provides thought-provoking content, and a slew of other "purposes". Reading Temptation was purely entertainment. And perhaps it was this paradigm shift that left me unsettled at the end.

I thought that the story would be a moral lesson of sorts. Is it our bad choices that lead us to a given point in life? Or are there outside factors? Can we own up to our bad choices or will we always look for the scapegoat, the one to point a finger at as the cause of all the problems? These questions could have easily been addressed by the story and were touched on. The story definitely made me think of these questions.

When I read a book, I like to know at the end that the characters will be okay. I'm not sure if David learned anything or if it will just be business at usual. I had hope that he would be fine, but an interaction with a studio higher up had me wondering if it was false hope.

I could go on about why the ex-wife irked me, the stupid, idiotic things David did, or the creepy Phil that anyone with half a brain would know to stay away from. But that would take away from the good feeling of having read something purely for entertainment. While there was a bit of doom and gloom, there were light moments. If nothing else the ridiculousness of how everything spins out of control will have you laughing loudly (I scared my dog at one point because a line just hit me as funny. And not that it was particularly funny in itself, but it indicated how far things had spiraled out of control.)

If you are looking for something "fluffy" that isn't romance, but still just a fun read pick up a copy of Temptation.

Your turn now: What is the biggest crime a writer can commit? Does a book need a bigger purpose than just to be entertainment? Why or why not?
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  1. Great review. I have loved the Douglas Kennedy books I've read so far so I'll definitely check this out!

  2. I don't think a book needs any other purpose other than entertainment. I read a lot of books just because they seem good, not because they have any knowledge or insight to offer me. I also read a lot of "serious" that have a definite purpose, whether to teach, sway opinion, inspire, etc and I almost always enjoy the "fluffy" books better :)

    1. I wonder if it was all the years in school of having to dissect novels for my Lit classes that made it difficult to read a book just for entertainment because I know I never looked for deeper meaning or life truths when reading The Bobbsey Twins or Babysitters Club. Judy Blume on the other hand... ;)