When the Cypress Whispers

April 22, 2014 Fiction, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, Women's Fiction 22

18090103Title: When the Cypress Whispers
Author: Yvette Manessis Corporon
Source: from publisher for TLC Book Tour
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Review Summary: I wanted to love this book, with its great insight into Greek culture, beautiful setting, and decent writing, but I couldn’t understand the main character and disliked both the ending and the message I felt this book was promoting.

After the death of her husband and her parents, Daphne forgets about happiness and about her Greek heritage. However, she eventually gets engaged again and returns to Erikousa to visit her Yia-yia (grandmother) before getting married. While there she learns about her surprising family history and is inspired by her grandmother’s strength. She also realizes how much family and her Greek heritage mean to her.

Starting this book, I was very excited. The plot about a woman finding herself appeals to me and it became clear very early on that magical realism was going to play a role in this story as well. The place descriptions were hit or miss for me, but the author did a great job capturing the main character’s feelings as a little girl. This made sense because the author has mentioned that she drew on her own childhood experiences when writing the book. I also loved the Greek culture that was included, from a sprinkling of Greek words to great food descriptions. The myths that were included were another thing that was hit or miss for me, since sometimes it felt like too much exposition, but in general signs pointed to this being a book I was going to enjoy immensely. However, the modern day story just didn’t work for me.

It’s clear from the beginning that something is supposed to be wrong with Daphne’s relationship with her fiance. He doesn’t do anything wrong though and seems like a good guy. He’s not entirely comfortable with Greek culture and he helped Daphne enough that she questions her ability to run her restaurant on her own. That doesn’t make him a bad guy though or even the wrong guy for Daphne. The one truly terrible thing he does seems completely out of character for him. I just didn’t buy it. And the fact that Daphne is sexually attracted to another man who never apologized for being a jerk to her when they first met didn’t sit well with me either. In fact, not only is he a jerk to her, her wonderful Yia-yia completely lets him get away with it. Both Daphne’s Yia-yia and the sexy jerk might have a point that Daphne would be happier if she spent more time on family and less time at work. However, they were both very harsh to Daphne and she was very hard on herself. In the end, it made me feel like the moral of this story was that women should prioritize families over their careers and that people are bad if they don’t maintain their traditional ways.

I still might have given this book three stars, because the writing is honestly good enough that it deserves three stars, if it weren’t for the ending. Despite the message of the book, I could have been happy for our main character if she got a happy ending. Instead she gets an ambiguous ending in which sexy jerk is once again a jerk and there is no explanation of how she resolves the conflict between her career and family obligations. I know some people like ambiguous endings, but I hate them and that was enough to solidly ruin this book for me.

For some other perspectives, check out the other stops on the tourAmazon, or Goodreads.


22 Responses to “When the Cypress Whispers”

    • DoingDewey

      Me too! I loved the title, the cover, the plot description… I was very surprised when it turned out not to be something I enjoyed.

  1. Jennine G.

    What a let down. Was it hard to keep reading at one point when things started not fitting for you?

    • DoingDewey

      You know, I wouldn’t go so far as to say it got hard to make myself keep reading. It was more like a low level frustration with the fact that I wasn’t convinced by the main character’s emotions and so didn’t find the way her relationships changed believable. Plus I really disliked how hard of a time everyone gave her about focusing on her career. Until the end though I had hopes that it would get better and the end would make me happier about it. It was only when the ending not only didn’t make things better, but actually made them worse, that I reached the point where I would have given up on the book.

  2. Charlie

    Maybe the ending would have worked better if the story in general had been better? Where the story doesn’t quite add up and the message seems wrong you would need the threads tied all the more.

    • DoingDewey

      Yes! I think that’s a great point. I think my tastes have been changing to where I’m more willing to read books that aren’t completely happy and maybe have some dark bits or an ambiguous ending. In this case though I was really counting on the ending to win me over, so for it be a sort of ending that’s not my favorite, that was the last straw.

  3. Katie @ Words for Worms

    What a disappointment. I’m always a bit frustrated by the bad boy trope anyway. Even though I adore her, I should probably blame Jane Austen for that whole thing, because Pride and Prejudice. In real life, I think if a dude comes off as a jerk in the beginning, he’ll probably stay that way. Just, uh, me getting off topic and ranting about life for a minute there. (BTW, I totally married a “nice guy.” I’m biased.)

    • DoingDewey

      The guy in this wasn’t a stereotypical bad boy, since he was only a jerk because I was fond of Daphne’s grandmother and felt Daphne had neglected her. But I agree that a guy who starts out a jerk is unlikely to improve and personally, I required more proof that he wasn’t a jerk before I could be happy with Daphne throwing herself at him. I’m dating a nice guy myself and think that’s definitely the way to go 🙂

  4. Aylee

    Urgh, no more jerks! That’s not sexy at all. Also not a fan of the message that women should prioritize family over careers if it’s especially preachy. I can tell this wouldn’t be my kind of book and I’m sorry it didn’t work for you either!

    • DoingDewey

      The message was definitely my least favorite part. Poor Daphne is a single mom with a high powered career and everyone acts like she’s a horrible person for also not finding more time with family. While it does seem like she could make more time for her daughter and it would make both her and her daughter happier, I think the people who supposedly lover her should have pointed that out nicely. I really wish I could recommend it, but I just can’t.

  5. tanya

    Thanks for reviewing this book. I’ve seen it around in ARC and have been curious about whether or not i would like it, but something was holding me back. I think my gut feeling was telling me something.

    • DoingDewey

      For me, the message was by far the worst part of this book. It impacted my enjoyment a lot and also makes me completely unwilling to recommend it, much as I wanted to be able to say I enjoyed it.

  6. Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    The sexy jerk is still a jerk. Haha! I love that comment.

    I know we’ve talked about this, but the book was so underwhelming. The love story with the fiance was predictable, but it was okay.

    I just wish wish wish that the author hadn’t skirted over the historical part. The book was BARELY a historical fiction. . . with just a hint of it, instead of including many more details. For me, I could have dealt with the predictable love stuff if only the book was much more heavily historical.

    • DoingDewey

      I was surprised you didn’t complain about it more in your review! I often don’t mind a predictable love story, but two things made this one bother me. The biggest problem for me was that I wasn’t convinced by the characters’ emotions. It felt like the plot just went the predictable way completely ignoring what the characters would actually do if they were real people. And the second thing was that ending. Such a let down! I don’t feel like Daphne ended up improving her life at all.

      It would have been wonderful to get more of the historical fiction. I felt distanced from the historical bits since they were always included as someone telling a story and there definitely wasn’t enough of it. They were my favorite part 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Heather! I was fortunate to meet the author at ALA and she seemed so very nice, I hated to dislike this one. Sadly, it just didn’t work for me. I appreciate you including me on the tour 🙂

  7. Lianne @ caffeinatedlife.net

    Great review! 🙂 Your thoughts more or less were the same as mine regarding the book. I had left my review at three stars because I did enjoy it for the most part (maybe it was the food that convinced me to leave it at 3, haha) but that ending left me quite unsatisfied, especially after everything Daphne went through in the novel 🙁

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Lianna 🙂 I didn’t hate reading it or want to stop reading, but the message and the feeling that the plot was going its own way regardless of what the characters were really like made me feel pretty frustrated with it. And that ending was the last straw! It was like nothing had even changed.

  1. Silver Bay | Doing Dewey

    […] Getting so many different perspectives helped with that. I was recently bothered by the way When the Cypress Whispers tries to demonize the main character’s generally nice fiance, clearly setting us up for her […]

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