3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Prostitute of State by Kate Kinnear is a novel about Jack Paradies, a man returning to his hometown of Sighclone, Nebraska after working as a secret agent during the Cold War. Upon his return, Jack quickly finds himself drawn to Jade, the owner of the local bar with a trying past of her own, and the two strike up a romance that quickly blossoms. The premise of the story is two-fold: As Jack relays his past to Jade, an aspiring writer who plans to turn his narration into a novel, the story of Jack’s dark past is described; meanwhile the reader is also privy to the evolution of the current-day relationship between Jack and Jade.
At first glance, this story doesn’t sound uncommon; however, where the author really shines is in the development of her characters. When Jack and Jade are first introduced, it is easy to misconstrue the two as stereotypes: the hard-natured, local woman who had a tough childhood; and the mysterious-bad-boy veteran returned home. However, as the story unfolds, so do the complex and multilayered personas of these two characters. By the end of the book, Jack and Jade are vividly real, and like most people we meet, they have good qualities and bad. Further, the relationship between these two is no façade; Kinnear wonderfully paints a realistic, if not sometimes too realistic, picture of world-weary lovers simply trying to make it through life.
In addition to Jack and Jade, the secondary characters in this novel are just as well drawn. Lucy, Jade’s daughter, and Fentje, a young girl from Jack’s past, both bring some levity to the story and help to further illustrate the complexities of the main characters. Moreover, without going into overwhelming detail, Kinnear brings the small town populace to life with sporadic descriptions, aptly placed throughout the narrative, of various Sighclone locals. It was the mark of a well-executed novel to see main characters, secondary characters and background characters all so expertly developed.
On top of the first-rate characterizations, the construction of this story made for an engaging read. At first I was curious to know where the plot was moving, but as the story progressed, the novel quickly turned into a character study as I began to learn who these characters really were and what, exactly, had led them to their current circumstance. The juxtaposition of Jack narrating his past life to Jade against the progression of the current relationship between Jack, Jade and Lucy added to the intricate nature of the plotting and ultimately bolstered the realism of the characters.
Although the story found in Prostitute of State was exceptionally well devised, the writing lacked finesse in certain areas. There were some instances of clumsy wording and overwrought descriptors, as well as punctuation errors throughout the narrative. However, these issues, though noticeable, did not detract from my general enjoyment of the story.
I truly struggled with rating this book. For the captivating, well-structured narrative and the beautiful satisfaction found in the complex and multilayered characters, I wanted to rate this book a strong four stars. However, the need for additional editing leaves me with no choice but to rate Prostitute of State 3 out of 4 stars. I strongly urge readers who enjoy fiction with a focus on gritty, passionate characters to give this book a read.
Prostitute of State
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like MarisaRose's review? Post a comment saying so!