The Clairvoyant
by Marian Thurm, contemporary (1999)
Harper, $6.50, ISBN 0-06-101372-2

Major spoilers present in this review

Talk about attractive packaging. This book's back blurb has me all excited and impatient to read it. Unfortunately, this book, despite boasting of a paranormal hilarious read, ends up rather down to earth. The promotional blurb also have rave reviews from literary journals like NYT and Kirkus calling it all sorts of wonderful labels such as Endearing... as brisk, charming, and good-natured as they come...magical and poignant

This is the last time I believe such hype.

The romance is nonexistent until the last three pages. One of the main characters is an unsympathetic snob of a female doggie. The two relationships, one each for each of the two lead female characters, lead to disaster. Heartwarming, poignant, magical... my shapely old bum!

The prologue is the best part of the book. Anyway it's about three people. Victor MacKenzie can see and talk to ghosts and he's a psychic, which is what the title is referring to, but let's face it, the clairvoyance of him is basically just a packaging to make this book stand out in the glut of Women's Fiction flooding the shelves. He's in love with a client, Katha, a failed artist who is involved with an obsessive, anal-retentive neat-and-control freak. Like all grand magical, poignant, funny heroines of ye olde critically acclaimed Women Fiction books, she is just too idiotic to see that her relationship will go nowhere. There there's her female doggie buddy Lucy. Lucy agonizes a lot that she's Black and her hubby's Jewish, and she complains that every bigoted castrated-donkey-holes in the family is putting them down. The poor woman however drops her husband like hot bricks after the poor man has a nervous breakdown, trades in his (very successful) dentist job for a life of selling dodgy sports gear. Never mind that hubby is making more money than before - Lucy the Ally-McBeal-wannabe can't bear the stress of having to drop the Dr before hubby's name. Oh, the pain! The embarrassment! What should she do? Go and attempt to jilt that man during their son's Bar Mitzvah. Magical and poignant. If I get my hands on those reviewers...

I would have liked the book a little bit if I didn't feel so cheated. Where are the funny parts? Only during the first chapter when Victor confronts an whining, annoying client who refuses to hear anything about her cat, her lover, her life... you get the idea. Everything else is Ally McBeal territory as these three people whine and whine and whine. Katha is on a pattern of self-destructive relationships until darling Victor steps in and guides her to the True Right Path of Happiness... at the last two chapters. Lucy worries and worries and worries about her hubby's mental breakdown but can't treat him kindly. She thinks the whole world is putting her down. I am absolutely delighted when her hubby Buddy fantasizes about skewering her and her braindead mother with a hatpin, but alas, he never does get to the point of doing just that. Victor, whose prologue is a charming short story of childhood innocence by itself, is as charismatic and action-oriented as Barney. He never does anything but to join in the whinefest.

Marian Thurm writes about the ups and downs of love and finds the beautiful in the peculiar, the heart in the ordinary.

This reviewer is probably the author's mother.

Even though you know from the moment Victor takes Katha's palm in his hand that they're fated - or doomed - for each other, you're never entirely ready to take this one for granted.

NYT must be reading too many gloomy depressing books if it thinks this as emotional as cold salami book is what it has written above. This is what happens when these reviewers think they're too good to read romance. They mistake whining, self-centered behavior, and self-absorption as emotional heartfelt fest.

Get a grip, you lots! This is the last time I listen to you people. Next time I'd stick to tabloid reviews. Gen-X reviewers and arty-farty highbrow readers... you guys stay away from me.

I want my $6.50 back! Ooh, I feel so cheated!

Rating: 32

PS: To be fair to the author, I do like the cover, the prologue, and the last paragraph:

And too, she (Katha) knows with all certainty that if Victor were to disappear an instant later, she would spend nothing less than the rest of her life looking for him.

Young lady, get your head out of the whinefest nonsense and write me a proper romantic story. Go on, if Alice Hoffman can do it, I know you can too.

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