Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Fiction Class ~ by Susan Breen, 2008

Title, author, copyright date, and genre?
The Fiction Class ~ by Susan Breen, 2008, fiction

Why did you read the book?
I got a copy to give my best friend for her birthday. She taught English for over 20 years and it looked like her kind of book. Before I got out of the store, however, I looked through the book and discovered something that made me go back and get a copy for myself so she and I could ... (Are you ready for this?) ... do the writing assignments together. Okay, now you know I'm a nerd. I may be retired and long out of school, but I was excited about the fact that this novel had, on separate pages all laid out, the assignments the fictional teacher assigned her class. Yes! I was in luck. My friend Donna is as crazy as I am, and we did the assignments together. We didn't read (and write) at the same speed, so I still "owe" her some writing assignments, but I haven't given up on doing them.

Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
Arabella Hicks, whose mother named her after the heroine in a novel by Georgette Heyer, teaches a weekly fiction class and has been trying for seven years to find an ending for a novel she is writing. We watch her week after week, as she deals with her students, works on her own novel, and deals with her own mother -- who is driving her crazy. Every week she visits her mother in the nursing home and on one visit learns her mother wants to be a writer. Surprise, surprise!

What did you think of the main character?
As a former college adjunct teacher, I was cheering for her all the way. I also agreed with Arabella's assessment of what happens in classrooms. Here's an early example:
"Nothing disrupts the mood of a class more quickly than people whispering" (p. 4).
Here's a comparison of the writing classes, which I am still pondering:
"She can hear people laughing in the next classroom; that's the screenwriting class. They are always so cheerful in screenwriting; the memoir class is always in tears, and the fiction class seems to be confused" (p. 31).
What did you like most about the book?
The author made her settings come to life, as in this description of the library in her mother's nursing home:
"The library is surprisingly lovely. In the midst of so much pastel neutrality, the bright colors of the book jackets are a welcome explosion of color. Here is life; even a nursing home cannot deaden the joy of a book" (p. 104).
How would you rate this book?
I'll give it a 9 out of 10 because I'm still enjoying it. Yes, don't laugh -- I do believe writing assignments can be enjoyable.
For an example of one of the writing assignments, see my next post: theme


Bookfool said...

I'm not laughing. I'd probably do the same. Nerds unite!

Susan Breen said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying the writing exercises (and my book!) If you are feeling really adventurous, you can go to my website, which is www.susanjbreen.com and take part in the writing exercise competition. Thank you very much for your kind words. Susan Breen