Discussion:
Donna Andrews and crowds of characters
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Carol Dickinson
2017-06-23 19:33:29 UTC
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A couple weeks back I waded through a book from a favorite author and needed something lighter so I took up the next Donna Andrews on my shelf "Stork Raving Mad". She is always funny and has a cast of zany characters in each book, but I was struck at how she always seems to have dozens of people to keep track of in every book. And again in this one. The main character, Meg, and her husband live in a huge 12 bedroom ramshackle house on a farm in Virginia.

In this one due to a heating system failure at the local university she has over 50 students camped out in her house. And I was struck reading it how Andrews manages to keep track of all the characters.

So after I finished that I started reading a Michael Jecks one of my other favorite writers, but I'd only read a couple chapters and ended up having to take an ambulance ride to the ER. It wasn't such an emergency that the paramedics didn't let me gather some things together. I knew I didn't want to try to follow the plot of a Jecks which being interrupted constantly so I grabbed the next Andrews "The Real Macaw" on the way out the door because the end of Stork left something kind of hanging anyway. And again she filled the story with dozens and dozens and dozens of characters. And yet the plot moved fast and it was easy to follow.

Then I thought back to some of her earlier books and realized in her later books she usually has crowds of characters. The one previous to Stork was "Six Geese a Slaying" in which Meg is in charge of the annual Christmas parade and some other event having to do with the college.

There are only a few writers I have run across that can do this successfully. I can think of Emily Brightwell, but her "crowd" are all the sleuths, and Rita Lakin who has a crowd of sleuths from a retirement village, but Lakin confuses me sometimes because her characters are not as individually varied and
she lets the reader ignore several of them for periods in each story.
Bill Gill
2017-06-24 12:49:31 UTC
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Post by Carol Dickinson
A couple weeks back I waded through a book from a favorite author and needed something lighter so I took up the next Donna Andrews on my shelf "Stork Raving Mad". She is always funny and has a cast of zany characters in each book, but I was struck at how she always seems to have dozens of people to keep track of in every book. And again in this one. The main character, Meg, and her husband live in a huge 12 bedroom ramshackle house on a farm in Virginia.
In this one due to a heating system failure at the local university she has over 50 students camped out in her house. And I was struck reading it how Andrews manages to keep track of all the characters.
So after I finished that I started reading a Michael Jecks one of my other favorite writers, but I'd only read a couple chapters and ended up having to take an ambulance ride to the ER. It wasn't such an emergency that the paramedics didn't let me gather some things together. I knew I didn't want to try to follow the plot of a Jecks which being interrupted constantly so I grabbed the next Andrews "The Real Macaw" on the way out the door because the end of Stork left something kind of hanging anyway. And again she filled the story with dozens and dozens and dozens of characters. And yet the plot moved fast and it was easy to follow.
Then I thought back to some of her earlier books and realized in her later books she usually has crowds of characters. The one previous to Stork was "Six Geese a Slaying" in which Meg is in charge of the annual Christmas parade and some other event having to do with the college.
There are only a few writers I have run across that can do this successfully. I can think of Emily Brightwell, but her "crowd" are all the sleuths, and Rita Lakin who has a crowd of sleuths from a retirement village, but Lakin confuses me sometimes because her characters are not as individually varied and
she lets the reader ignore several of them for periods in each story.
I hadn't really noticed that about the crowds, but it is a fact
that Meg is usually doing something that requires her to keep
a lot of balls in the air all at the same time. I think that is
part of what makes the books so enjoyable.

Bill

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