Author: Susan Klein
Why did I Read It? It came up as a recommendation over at Podio Books and the idea of a modern fairy tale appealed.
Synopsis: Mrs Meyers sleeps, eats and lives on the couch in her den. Though afraid of confrontation, Mrs Meyers works as a paralegal, and she enters sweepstakes in the hope of some luck to give her relief from the pressure of debt accrued after the prolonged illness and the death of her husband. Then, one morning, Mrs Meyers discovers she is the winner of the Expect the Unexpected sweepstake, and a mythical creature has come to stay with her. If Mrs Meyers can keep Mr. G. safe for the duration of his stay, riches will be hers and all her problems will be solved. But, Mrs Meyers really should Expect the Unexpected.
Short synopses of the various chapters can be read at Gnome Home Stay.
What did I like? This really is a modern fairytale. It’s clear Susan Klein has thought long and hard about the story, in particular the make-up of the Gnome Nation from which Mr. G. hails. The audio version, in podcast format, to which I listened moved along at a fair pace. It’s amusing, downright funny at times and I can truly hear the empathy Susan Klein has for her main character, Brenda.
This book could have been over-sentimental, but it’s not. Mourning, loss, timidity and mild depression are explored within The Gnome and Mrs. Meyers, but with a level of (almost) understatement.
What didn’t I like? I preface this with the statement that I work with Texans, and other Americans, but I was raised within a British household. It is a truly personal thing, but Susan Klein‘s accent when narrating was unpalatable – to begin with. After I while, I found her accent and her odd pronunciation of some words amusing, mostly because I came to equate her voice with that of Mrs. Meyers.
I realise it is difficult to narrate, and produce your own book for broadcast, but there were some hiccoughs: paper rustling; odd pauses as pages were turned; words missed; and doubling back on the text. These could be overlooked, as they didn’t really spoil the story, and are only relevant to the audio edition.
I would have preferred if the author hadn’t spent so much time on the backstory, and the expounding on the nature of the Gnome Nation; some of it felt superfluous, and only snippets were really required to move the story along. I would have preferred a bit more mystery, as found in older fairy tales when the reader is not always sure of motivation of various supernatural characters.
Would I recommend it? You bet. A great story with memorable characters, and creatures and, I suspect, an easy read; it is certainly an easy listen being only 22 (very short) chapters long. I certainly hope Susan Klein continues to write another modern fairy tales.