Stacey May Fowles

I came across a novel – you know one of these novels that you can’t put down -so I wrote this review of Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles:

From the very first sentence,  “They say it takes a lot of nerve to leave someone at the altar” to “People who commit infidelity all seem to end up in the same shitty hotel room” I was hooked.

It was not only the plot that grabbed me. With a title like infidelity we already know what the plot is going to revolve around. In this case, a sought after, married writer with an autistic child and a soon to be married hairdresser.

That’s interesting enough. But the real sparkles of this novel is the writing. Stacey May Fowles not only writes beautiful sentences but she takes literary risks that wowed me. For example, shifting points of views so smoothly and artistically. As a writer, I was fascinated with her style of writing.

canadianbooks:Our latest Cityline Book Club pick: Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles | Cityline

 

I’ve often read and been told by many writing teachers to stick to one point of view. Maybe you’ve been told the same thing. So I’m reading along her book, third person POV with the title chapters indicated  as such:

(CHAPTER ONE), (CHAPTER TWO) and so on. Protagonists names are Ronnie (short for Veronica) and Charlie.

Then I get to ( CHAPTER FIVE)

CHARLIE

“I write because it makes me feel interesting, wanted, desirable, wise. Because it’s an itch that won’t be scratched, but I just keep scratching and scratching until it bleeds…”

So now, I’m reading the novel in first person POV.

And then I get to another first person POV.

RONNIE

“Charlie was the sweetest kind of sickness from the moment I met him. He was the secret thrill of possible infidelity embodied in a package of ridiculous awkwardness.”

(CHAPTER SIX )

Back to third person POV. Until chapter ten. But don’t try to find a pattern to the shift between first and third person POV because there isn’t any.

Mixing the two POV’s offers both the intimate perspective of first person and the much wider perspective of third person. It works because Fowles uses the first person only with her two main characters.

This novel is not at all conventional.  For example, when Ronnie makes a list of things she longs to do with Charlie but can’t do with him. The things are on the page numbered from

1) Read the Sunday paper with you….

to

20) Wake up together on Christmas morning.

Infidelity, which was published by ECW Press, a small Canadian publisher, was listed as a top one hundred novels of 2013 on Amazon.ca. Not bad for a not so well known writer, following her own rules.

 What are your thoughts about shifting viewpoints in a novel? 

36 thoughts on “Stacey May Fowles

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Carol. I’ve read strong novels with shifting POVs (i.e. between first and third person). It can be done well. That said though, my preference is for a consistent POV. I think it holds a story together a little better. But that’s just my view. I don’t think there’s anything sacred about it.

    • Thanks for your input, Margot. I think it also depends on the genre (or does it?).
      At first, I was taken aback when when reading the novel in third person POV and came to first person.It was a little bit disorienting but then i got used to it and found it worked really well.
      I tend to like first person POV novels but what’s more important is if I’m taken in by the story.

  2. My most recent novel shifts between three POV characters. I initially wanted to do two POVs in 3rd person and one in 1st person, but after researching the idea, it seemed most advice was to avoid that. Nice to see someone made it work. Sounds like a great book.

    • It was a great book, especially in terms of looking at a different style of writing.
      She has two POVs in 1st person and one in 3rd.
      One of the books I’m working on has the 1st person POV (he’s the narrator) and tells the story in 3rd person. It seems to be working so far.
      I guess you just have to experiment.

  3. I have found some authors handle it so well, you barely notice the change. You have to be downright awesome to manage doing it well. I like change if it’s done well. It’s almost like a change of tense. One minute you’re in the present and then you’re in the past. Some do it well. Others blow it apart. Just my two cents worth.

      • Thank you Carol. I am at my daughter’s and she had her first Chemo today. So far so good. She will lose her hair, but the side effects haven’t struck as yet.
        Thanks for everything. Hugs and let me know how you balance your schedule. It’s something I hope to work on when time allows.

      • Balance my schedule? I sort of play things by ear (or intuition). Every morning I make a list of what I’d like to accomplish that day or what I need to do (pay bills). In between I take housework breaks. I have set days for yoga and swimming. I work on my novels every morning. Work on my blog every day. I usually don’t get to do everything on my list. 🙂
        I wish you and your daughter courage and calm as she goes through her chemo treatments. Not an easy think. When my sister lost her hair she tried a wig but didn’t like it and instead wore scarves in bright colors.

      • Thanks for sharing your scheduling. It’s so hard to fit everything in and I seem to (when I am at home) fall in the cracks of not writing a whole lot since I am on wordpress. That was why I was asking.
        Thank you for your concern. So far Leah has not had serious complications. Headaches, some nausea, some flushing of the skin, and this morning some aching of her shoulders. I will remain another couple of days, and then will go back home to catch up on my stuff. Then return for the week of her next treatment. She will be losing her hair they said within ten days. That will be so hard. She has some cute hats to wear. But it is something that will be very difficult. My being here is working out well so far. We talk about the old days and take photos and bird watch, etc. Hugs and have a great week.

      • I’m so happy for you that it’s working out with you and your daughter. Your post had an uplifting, positive tone to it. :
        Time does go by quickly.I recently heard an interview with Gretchen Rubin where she said: The days are long but the years are short.

        http://www.gretchenrubin.com/

        Enjoy your weekend. 🙂 Hugs to you and good vibrations to Leah.

  4. As you like this book, it is certainly worth reading, Carol.
    Normally, the shifting of viewpoints is rather irritating. If handled the right way it seems to offer a charming quality to the book.

  5. Well, I now have yet another book to add to my list. 🙂 I love your picks Carol and now I’m extra curious to read to get a feel with the changing POVs. I like different and interesting, so when I ever get to read it, I will be sure to let you know. I am sitting beside my big hardcover copy of The Goldfinch right now, anticipating when I can start reading that as well. 🙂

    • Debbie, The Goldfinch is a large chunk of reading. Let me know what you think. I particularly loved the last few pages. I think Donna Tartt wrote brilliantly in those pages.
      Infidelity is a very short book and reads really quickly. She pulled off the shifting POVs cleverly.
      Have a productive day. 🙂

      • Thanks Carol. Although it may be a few months until I get to the Goldfinch, I will definitely give you my opinions. At present, I am working long days to get my next book ready for publication (next week hopefully!) and editing my submission for the writer’s union. I am also considering moving and you know what that craziness entails. Sheesh! I need to catch my breath. 🙂

      • Good luck with your book, Deb. That’s really exciting news.
        Moving is huge! It requires a lot of thought before taking that step. Measuring the pros and cons. Anyway, just breath. 🙂

      • Breathe, being the operative word 🙂 I was hoping to breathe after publication and enjoy the summer while finishing my third book to ready for publish in the fall. When this is all said and done, I will be lucky to have that book ready by Xmas. And then I shall breathe 🙂 Thanks.

  6. I enjoy it when a writer breaks the “rules” and it works. I really am inspired that your work includes getting to read so many wonderful books and their authors and share them with us.

    • So kind of you to say that. 🙂 I sometimes think that I should be writing more about my work instead of that of others (as you do in your blog…which is very personal and insightful). But then I think, what would i write about? 🙂

      • I’m sure you’d have lots of interesting stories and insights to share about your work, Carol, that could benefit all of us writers as much as these other folk that you bring to life for us so well.

  7. Aaargh! I love multiple POVs. My first novel got into trouble for shifting points of view, so I restricted myself in my second and in my third (which I am trying to publish now) I have written in the first person, so there is just the one POV and, as one critic has said, this can become claustrophobic. Getting it right is a great skill.

    • Yes, indeed getting it right is a great skill. But I also think that we have to listen to ourselves, our intuition and heart and not be influenced by what others claim is the right way to write our novel.

  8. I guess the thrill of having multiple POVs is in knowing the other sides to the story. I read a Japanese short story before that was just a collection of different accounts on a certain crime. It was really interesting.

    As an English teacher, I praise students when they are able to defy intelligently rules of writing in order to get across important ideas. This for me is a sign of increasing understanding and creative application of what they’ve learn from class.

    Lovely post!

    • Sheri, thanks for reading and commenting. I think that good writing takes us to unexpected places, to explore new horizons and to discover other ways of experiencing life.

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