Plot: Patience, our heroine, has always been infatuated with childhood friend, Pip, while ignoring “dear, dependable” Richard, her other childhood friend. It’s one of those love triangle/childhood friends to lovers stories.
Long Ramblings: I had read three previous Fairchild books before and liked them all. My favorite so far is The Love Knot, which features a love triangle with a Cyrano twist. So, when I received A Game of Patience in a book swap ring that I am participating in, I dug in immediately. Sadly, this book is a disappointment.
This is a very self-conscious novel. Fairchild obviously thought a lot about stylistic choices and this book comes across as one loooong, arduous writing exercise. 28 of the 33 chapters in the novel start with the word “Patience”; every chapter but one does have the word “Patience” somewhere in the very first sentence. I could not help but notice it. I am sure it was meant to be noticed.
Patience is also what the Brits call the card game of Solitaire. Patience, our heroine, happens to loooooove card games as well as backgammon and chess so “cards” and “games” (as well as “tightrope walking”) are motifs and metaphors used throughout the book. Unfortunately, Fairchild doesnt just hire a metaphor for the night. No, she uses it over and over again, beats it to a pulp, eventually killing it, and then, still not finished with it, she ties its decaying corpse to her horse and drags the body behind her for days. In another words, it’s o-v-e-r-kill. I cannot remember the last time I was so bludgeoned with metaphor overkill in a book. (I think maybe a Pat Conroy novel about 20 years ago.)
Despite all this, I could have liked this book if it had just done the job storywise. As I clearly state in my Caveat, I am a sucka for beta heroes. I am also a sucka for childhood sweetheart stories. It would have taken very little for me to like this novel, so very little, but it is an utter failure as a romance.
Warning — I am going to spoil the ending because it has a huge, HUGE problem. Not only does Patience not spend enough time with the man she eventually ends up with but (spoiler) TWENTY pages before the end of the book, Patience is rubbing NAKED UGLIES with the OTHER GUY, about to give up her hymen(end spoiler) so the last minute about-face to her real love is not in the least believable. It was the final misstep in a long series of missteps throughout the book. I really regret that I did not go with my gut instinct and quit the book at around page 100.
Oh well. The 3 novels I had previously read of Fairchild’s were all from circa 1997. I am still open to reading more of Fairchild’s backlist but I might stick with her earlier books from now on. Looking over her website, it looks like Fairchild hasn’t published a romance in 4 years so it’s out of my hands anyway.