Friday, July 19, 2013

The Gate House by Nelson DeMille

I read this book  over a month ago but just  catching up on some posting here.  I had not read any of De Mille's  books previously and based on my impression of  The Gate House am unlikely to read others.  A recent American Legion magazine featured him,  so I thought I might enjoy his books so when I  found this first edition, October 2008 at a book sale I picked it up.  It will go back to the book sale donation stack, all 674 pages. He is a prolific author and apparently popular.  The story seemed like it could be interesting fiction, of treachery told by John Sutter, a divorced man who sails off to England after his wife, Susan, has an affair with their mafia Don neighbor a client of John's and kills the Don.  They are both WASPs  and she, Susan is from old money family  which has seen better times. The first sentence on  the flap of the book cover, "DeMille  is as keen a social satirist as Edith Wharton." might have alerted me that I could avoid this book.  I am not fond of Wharton either.   Inside the hard cover, front and back is a nice map of  the "Gold Coast of Long Island, New York" depicting the Atlantic Ocean, neighborhoods on Long Island, etc.  That is interesting and reminiscent of older literature where often the insides of the covers had artwork.  

Initially the writing  enticed me, ..pg 6..."The presence of death in the coffin should compel us
into some profound thoughts about the shortness of life and make us rethink our many disappointments, resentments, and betrayals that we can't seem to let go of.  Unfortunately, however, we usually take these things to the grave with us, or the the grave of the person we couldn't forgive in life."   Pg. 14..."We all have trouble parting with things like this, but I can tell you, as a  lawyer and a man, no good can come of saving anything you wouldn't want your family or your enemies to see"  Pg. 83.."An individual passes through a continuum of time and space, but now and then you enter a warp that sucks you back into the past. You understand what's going on because you've been there before but that's no guarantee that you're going to get it right this time.  In fact, experience is just another word for baggage.  And memory carries the bags."    He is a good writer, descriptive, thoughtful.  

John has returned to  Long Island because he is the estate attorney for a   terminal  elderly client and curious if he can restructure a relationship with his adult children after the tragedy and divorce.  There is intrigue with the Bellarosa, Mafia family as the son, Anthony has a vendetta against Susan, who was acquitted in the murder. While the story was rather interesting and some of John's comments to himself or thoughts are borderline comical and certainly satirical, the book is too long for the story.  The characters are  well described and  life like; his ex-in laws, Susan's parents are timelessly troublesome.  But,  I grew tired of the author's inclusion of sexual activities.  It was as though DeMille needed to achieve massive volume and to do so he had to include the sexual romps and details.  He could eliminate most of that and still have a good story line.  However,  I can find so many more interesting books to read that De Mille is not an author whom I'll repeat reading. 

Despite good writing, characters, and story line, I give this book only 2  at most 3 stars.  ***