|Date Published||18 December 2020|
Orna, Emilia and Ella have questions and insecurities, causing each of them to turn to Gil. And he may have all the answers, but Gil is a liar.
Orna is a recently divorced mother of a young hypersensitive boy. Gil is her first encounter through the dating site, and though there are no sparks, Orna doesn’t give up on the first date because Gil is gentle, helpful and happy to take things slowly.
Emilia is a deeply religious immigrant and caretaker in an assisted living facility. She is struggling to make ends meet, when Gil kindly offers her part-time work cleaning his apartment.
Ella is a married mother of three, working on her thesis, who will embark on a dangerous liaison with Gil.
The women will never meet. They have nothing in common. Except Gil, whose entire life is a lie, and whose pleasure is deadly.
As always, I ignored the cover, the blurb, and even the author’s name before reading this novel. However, the setting and several questionable word choices made me realise early on that Three was translated.
The writing style disappointed me. Swathes of tell instead of show send me to Yawnville at the best of time. This book is almost entirely ‘tell.’ I felt so removed from the story that I may as well have been reading it from a distant corner of the room. There is virtually no dialogue and a third person point of view that is skin deep made the women one-dimensional.
The ‘tell’ style of writing is also a perfect implement for leaking the author’s voice into the text. At times I wondered if Mishani has a stereotyped, somewhat jaded view of women. Orna is drowning in anguish and self-pity over her ex-husband and son. The author portrays Emilia as a less than bright, foreign care worker. Ella might be a little bit sharper, but even she feels pulled along by a plot that, thankfully by the third section, starts ramping up. And there is an overdose of female naivety, mania and self-pity.
Gil is deliberately vague and appears far less often on the page, but this ambiguity is overdone and leaves it difficult to believe in his character. His time on stage portrays an unlikeable person and compounds the reader’s belief that the women around him are stupid. No intelligent woman would persevere with his hot-cold attitude combined with his non-entertaining-ditch-water personality. According to Orna, he is not even that good-looking. Superficial, I know, and hardly a reason to go out with a guy, but at least it could be one redeeming feature!
The sentences are cliché heavy. This, along with the ‘tell’ style, leaves a taste of lazy writing, as if the author has penned a detailed outline, but not brought it to life through editing.
The plot is reasonable, but with a post-reading referral to the allusions in the blurb and cover comments, I don’t feel it is original or particularly suspenseful. It is certainly not dark, twisty or mind-toying for a psychological thriller.
Three is an average book that is evenly but slow-paced. If the reader doesn’t mind watching a story unfold from a distance rather than taking a journey with the characters, then this book is an easy, not too disturbing read.
Reviewed 19 December 2020 by Kati Barr-Taylor
Kati Barr-Taylor lives in her ‘cosy pigsty’ in the Dordogne. She satisfies her literary cravings by translating, writing, editing and reading.