4 out of 4 stars
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Cooperative Lives by Patrick Finegan is one of the best novels I have read in recent times. For its outstanding quality, I thought an established author wrote it. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered that this is the first book Finegan ever penned. It tells a complex and enthralling story set in New York. The setting is essential because it is ordinary to ignore those who live next to you in such a big city. This is what happens to the protagonists of this book. They do not know each other despite they live in proximity. Anyway, an unexpected turn of events and an international plot forces them to interact with each other.
Cooperative Lives is not a short book, but I was never bored or impatient during my reading. On the contrary, I enjoyed the clever development of the story. I especially liked how Finegan widened the horizon. He begins with common situations and people concerned with usual things: solitude, divorce, investments, and death. Little by little, things change and become more and more complicated, and accidents and intrigue happen. The events become less predictable and keep you in suspense. For me, the shift was unexpected, but it is well prepared and reveals Finegan’s excellent writing skills.
I cannot praise Finegan’s way of writing enough. The author has a knack for representing even an ordinary event in a way that makes it stands out as unique. His descriptions of places, people, and feelings are accurate. He wants the reader to enjoy these passages and writes with remarkable composure and precision. I especially liked the descriptions of New York. They are not verbose, and yet they are so clear that it seems to be there. If you know the city a little, you will enjoy them even more.
As one might expect from a long book, the tone is varied. Finegan can be ironic, melancholic, and resentful. He seems to like to play with words and situations. I particularly enjoyed the short part where a character makes some considerations about how a modern writer could write Wuthering Heights. It sounds like a criticism of some trends of modern literature. Also, I appreciate the author’s remarks about politics and his explanations about laws and other topics. These parts enrich the book rather than being useless digressions.
I have not found any negative aspects in this book, so I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I have to add that Cooperative Lives benefits from excellent editing, and I have found just a couple of minor errors. I recommend this book to every reader who likes complex stories and minute descriptions. As for me, I hope I will have the chance to read Finegan’s works again.
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