The nobodies album : a novel

by Carolyn Parkhurst

Paper Book, 2010

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Doubleday, c2010.

Description

On her way to deliver the manuscript to her editor, bestselling novelist Octavia Frost reads a news crawl in Times Square and learns that her rock-star son, Milo, has been arrested for murder. Though she and Milo haven't spoken in years--an estrangement stemming from their tragic past--she drops everything to go to him.

User reviews

LibraryThing member GCPLreader
Sometimes I tire of quirky, clever novels where the author includes a story within a story (within a story). Here Carolyn Parkhurst delivers a gorgeous metafictional novel that works. The main character is Octavia Frost, a woman who is estranged from her rockstar son and who has experienced the tragic death of her husband and daughter. Octavia is working on a new book that will revisit and rewrite the endings of her previous novels of loss.

(from pg. 3) " This book is different from anything I've done in the past; in fact, I'm going to puff myself up a little bit and say that it's different from anything anyone has done in the past, though there isn't a writer alive who hasn't thought about it. The Nobodies Album isn't a novel, though ever word of it is fiction. Do you see me talking around it now, building up the suspense? Can you hear the excitement creeping into my voice? Because what I've done here is nothing short of revolutionary, and I want to make sure the impact is clear. What I've done in this book is to revisit the seven novels I've published in the last twenty years and rewrite the ending of each one."

The main narrative is about Octavia reconnecting with her son who is accused of murdering his girlfriend. The murder mystery is not my favorite part, but is clearly developed as a vehicle for the mother and son to bond.

What I loved were the sprinkling of the assortment of imaginary final chapters and their revisions. It is through Octavia's fiction that we feel the pain of her loss and the need to go back and fix what is wrong. The short stories do not take up much room and do not distract from the main plot. The biggest compliment I can pay is that I would love to see Parkhurst turn each of these vignettes into actual novels.

Carolyn Parkhurst writes in a beautiful, literary voice. Late in the novel, Octavia reflects on the impact the deaths of her husband and daughter have had upon her writing:

" Of course that day and all of the days that followed it became part of my work. It didn't feel like a choice. The profanity of death and the sacredness of grief: what more important material is there When, in each of my subsequent books, I took time to pause and consider what we had had and what we had lost, it was something like the Muslim call to prayer. Such a powerful act. Imagine taking the time to stop your ordinary life five times a day in order to turn to something holy. A supplication, a reminder. Bearing witness. A summing-up of belief. And if, in my own life and in my own work, I didn't exactly fall to my knees and touch my forehead to the ground, I performed a sort of internal bowing. I honor you. I'm thinking of nothing else. I bear witness that they were loved. I bear witness that they are not gone from my body, from my life. Make haste to remember them. Make haste toward prayer."

I encourage readers to reacquaint themselves with the folktale The Pied Piper of Hamelin before reading The Nobodies Album. The author's final story-within-the story affectively reworks the old legend with brilliant results. highly recommended
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LibraryThing member msf59
After experiencing a terrible family tragedy, Octavia Frost is left to care for Milo, her nine year old son. Now, nearly twenty years later, she is a successful author, unmarried and estranged from her only son. Milo is living in San Francisco and is the lead singer of a popular rock band. Octavia is in New York, ready to deliver her latest manuscript, when she learns that Milo has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. Even though, he has does not want to see her, Octavia flies out to the West Coast. She is hoping to reconnect with her son, patch up their wounds, which stem from that early tragedy and possibly start her own investigation into this latest crime. Interspersed, throughout this story, are snippets of her current book, a revolutionary novel, containing revised endings of all her novels. Most of these stories turn out to be pretty fascinating and also reveal the author’s troubled state of mind. This is a passage from the first page, where Octavia muses over her goals as a writer: “But isn’t that the point-to write something that will last after the book has been put back on the shelf? This is the way I like it. Read my story, walk through those woods, and when you get to the other side, you may not even realize that you’re carrying something out that you didn’t have when you went in.”
This is a well-written, very inventive book and one I highly recommend.
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LibraryThing member SignoraEdie
I received Carolyn Parkhurst’s new novel, “The Nobodies Album” as an Advanced Readers Copy. I had requested it because I recalled reading her previous book, “The Dogs of Babel” and thinking that while it was a bit quirky, I enjoyed it and I was eager to see what she had done in this novel. When I read the fly leaf and discovered that this was also a unique book in that it told the story of the main character’s (author Octavia Frost) reconnection with her estranged “rock star” son when he is accused of murdering his girlfriend while also interspersing chapters that rewrite the endings of her 7 novels, I thought… “This is going to be too much work to keep straight.” How pleasantly surprised I was to find that that was not the case. I enjoyed every page of this book!

The story of her relationship with her son is a simple one. It is told in two voices…one the emotional longing of a mother to be reconnected with her son, the only child remaining after her husband and daughter die, and the voice of a writer, seeming to narrate the events as they unfold as if to give her some distance from the happenings to buffer her potential pain. I found Parkhurst’s style very engaging and it held my interest. The rewritten endings of the writer’s novels were not at all distracting. Each one was a little vignette of itself that made perfect sense in the context of the story. In the end, they demonstrated the fact that everyone lives with regrets of some kind. Everyone wonders if we had done things differently would we have had better outcomes. Everyone wishes that they might have the ability to rewrite an ending of their own.

Reading this novel was like existing for a time inside a writer’s head and observing the world and the events while writing a narration, and seeing how clearly the real and the imagined intertwined and intersected.

Overall, I found this novel redeeming and I was left with the optimistic awareness that all anyone wants in life is to be loved and accepted and that our greatest strength lies in giving those we love, just that!
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LibraryThing member susiesharp
This book was so well written and very hard to put down. Author Octavia Frost has had a successful career but has been estranged from her son Milo, a famous rock star; they have grown steadily apart since the death of her husband and daughter when Milo was 9. But tragedy is about to bring them back together again when Octavia hears a news report that her son has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend.

There are excerpts from Octavia’s books which all sound like books I would like to read! This was a story about family, failures, forgiveness and redemption. Through the words from the books Octavia has written you get glimpses into the life shared by her and Milo after the death of half of their family. Now Octavia and Milo need to work together to prove his innocence and repair their broken relationship.

This was a very powerful book that flowed through the beautiful writing; it’s so much more than a mystery but the mystery was a good one. This was my first book by Carolyn Parkhurst but for sure won’t be my last.

4 ½ Stars
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LibraryThing member suetu
Can we revise our endings?

Have you ever had the experience of starting a novel and just falling in love with the protagonist right away? This isn’t that novel. When we meet first-person narrator Olivia Frost, the best-selling novelist is flying to New York to drop off her latest manuscript at her editor’s office. She’s a little quirky, a little acerbic. Walking through Times Square, she’s stopped in her tracks by a news feed. Her estranged son, the rock star Milo Frost, has just been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend.

So begins Carolyn Parkhurst’s latest, The Nobodies Album. It’s part conventional murder mystery, part character study, and part rumination on the art and life of a novelist. For me, the book worked on all levels. I won’t go so far as to call it a page-turner, but I was engaged by the mystery plot. The dénouement may have been obvious to some readers, but not to this one. I did warm up to Olivia and found her to be an interestingly complex character to build a novel around. But more than anything, I think, I enjoyed the insights into what it is to be a writer:

“I’ve often wondered if writers are the ones who feel compelled to narrate their lives as they live them, to stand in the shower and wonder whether there’s a less predictable word than ‘lather.’ I used to think it made me a good writer—look at me, honing my craft as I stand here to pour a cup of coffee, drafting and revising my descriptions of the mug, the smell, the sound of the hot splatter! Now I just find it tiresome, though it doesn’t seem to be something I can stop. An end to narration: that’s what I imagine death will be like.”

Olivia isn’t just ruminating on her writing, however. A significant subplot of the novel is her desire to rewrite the endings of all of her previously published works. (And I don’t think you need to be Freud to see the significance in that.) To that end, scattered strategically throughout the novel (in order to create maximum tension and suspense) we are treated to the jacket copy and the original and revised conclusions to Olivia’s seven novels. These interruptions are relatively short, and read more like self-contained stories than the true final pages of books, but the overall effect reminded me of Italo Calvino’s experimental novel If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. Basically, you’d get caught up in the story snippets and feel slightly jarred when they ended.

Reading back over what I’ve written, I realize my description of this novel sounds a bit busy and overwrought. On the contrary, I thought it all came together really well. It was both entertaining and illuminating.

Oh, and Ms. Parkhurst, if you’re reading this, I’d really like to read the entirety of Olivia’s imaginary novel The Human Slice!
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LibraryThing member LiterateHousewife
Last summer I read and reviewed The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst. It was quirky and I ended up liking it. So when I saw Devourer of Books' review of her latest novel, I got excited. So excited that I bought it right away. The Nobodies Album tells the story of Octavia Frost, a popular author and her estranged rockstar son, Milo. Octavia didn't start writing until a tragic accident turned her family of four into a family of two. When the novel opens, Octavia is at a crossroads with her craft. Her latest book is an accumulation of different endings for all of her published novels. She is in the process of delivering the manuscript to her publisher in New York City when she sees the news that Milo was arrested for the murder of his live-in girlfriend across a scrolling sign. Was her son capable of murder? Even though he will have nothing to do with her, she can't ignore her maternal instincts. She kick into high gear, unable to keep her distance emotionally or physically. She has to try to help him even if he refuses her.

It's been over three months since I read this book, so this review is going to be much shorter than it might have been. I loved this book just as much if not more than The Dogs of Babel. It had a similar quirky feel to it given Octavia's current project of rewriting the ending to all of her previous novels. Having them interspersed into the story at first seemed odd and then it seemed perfect. It also had so much to say about the strength of family in the face of tragedy. There was no miraculous reunion between mother and son. Instead, they both faced the hurt they'd caused one another. They began to understand the way loss can impact their actions. What really made the book for me was how the way in which Octavia tried to reclaim her life after losing her husband and daughter and the way in which this good thing for her harmed her relationship with Milo. Octavia working through that was actually quite beautiful.

The only thing that bothered me with this book was the name Milo. I don't know what it is recently (see review of I'd Know You Anywhere), but if I don't latch on to a character's name, it sticks under my craw. That's my quirk alone I'm sure. Perhaps it's time for a little therapy. LOL!

With a hint of mystery, murder, and plenty of family issues, The Nobodies Album is a winner. It's accessible and thoughtful. I very much appreciated that I could still recognize the author, her style, and hers ingenuity while reading something completely different. I found reading this book rewarding and would highly suggest it.
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LibraryThing member Kikoa
I got this book because the premise seemed so interesting. The fictional author takes books she has already written and revises the endings. In Nobodies Album both the old ending and the new one are there side by side. As she is doing this, they parallel her life and the crisis she is faced with....The story becomes so real that I found myself believing that the real author was the writer in the story...… (more)
LibraryThing member bookworm12
A widowed author, a rock star son, a murder mystery, unresolved family issues, this book kind of has it all.

The story bounces back and forth between the main plot, which follows author, Octavia Frost, whose adult son, rock star Milo, is arrested for murder of his girlfriend and a secondary plot. Those portions are chapters from the author’s novels and are part of a collection called The Nobodies Album, which contains the rewritten endings of her books.

At first it was jarring (at least on the audio) to switch between the fictional stories and the author’s life, but after awhile you get into each of the stories within the larger story. It’s really beautifully told. I found myself forgetting that Octavia isn’t a real author and I wanted to read some of her books, particularly The Human Slice.

Part of me, the cynical side I suppose, thought maybe this was a way for the author to fit a bunch of ideas for books into a single book. But even as I say that, I realized that it still worked. It doesn’t feel forced, it just feels like an author reflecting on her books, her “children.” These things that she created and now wishes she could change. It’s about so much more than changing books though; it’s about living a life of regret and realizing you can’t change what’s already happened.

I’ve never read anything by Parkhurst before, but I kept thinking about what an engrossing voice she has. I went back and forth on my rating, because though I really enjoyed it while I was reading it, I think I’ve grown to like it even more in the past few weeks. I keep thinking about new elements of the story and how they say so much more than they seem to at first. It’s almost like the book is just trying to tell a story, but it can’t help but be profound. It was an incredibly satisfying read.

"Why do we think that knowing the events of someone's life gives us insight into the person they are? Certainly we react to the things that happen to us, we are not unchanged by them, but there is no format to it. You may know that a cascade of water can wear away stone, but you can't predict what shape the rock will take at any given moment."
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LibraryThing member framberg
Parkhurst's novel of love, loss, and creation is absorbing and beautifully written. While the prose is mostly dispassionate, the story evoked my sympathy for characters struggling with the choices they've made and the desire to rewrite their own stories. While perhaps the plot itself is a bit pat - I knew from the moment all of the key characters were introduced who the murderer was - that complaint feels almost beside the point because the journey was a pleasure, though it dealt so intimately with loss, guilt, and grief. Through her characters, especially the protagonist Octavia Frost, herself a writer, Parkhurst shows the way we all create narratives of our own lives, pointing out the moments we wish we could revise, acknowledging that such revision is impossible and that moving forward is essential.… (more)
LibraryThing member coolmama
Octavia Frost is a best selling author of dark novels.

On her way to deliver her last one, she sees that her estranged son and rock band sensation, Milo Frost has been arrested for murder.

I like the character development in the book, and how the excerpts of her novels show the mirror in her life events. Well written and kept my interest. Even though some rather large plotlines were obvious.… (more)
LibraryThing member taramatchi
I read "The Dogs of Babel" a while ago and still thought about that book and wanted to read something else by this author. I found this book had an imaginative plot and some interesting plot twists. I really enjoyed that the author showed a lot of what the characters felt in unconventional ways. I really grew to care about what happened to the characters. I really loved the way the characters were so intertwined through their backstories and through the murder case. She had some really interesting supporting characters. Roland and Kathy were both really interesting characters to me and I wanted to learn their back story and cherished each nugget of information that was given to me. The end of the book was a bit fractured (jumping from what happened in the future, then back to the past, and then further in the past, but I got what was going on (although it could have been a bit more concise and flow a bit better).

The use of the plot line of Octavia's idea changing the endings to her books really showed a lot of the changes in her and her state of mind. I really enjoyed reading the endings of the fictional books and reflecting on what I knew of Octavia and her relationship with her son and the events that in some ways bound them and in others tore them apart. I looked forward to reading the endings.

A great book for anyone that ever wondered about how a book could reflect its author.
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LibraryThing member bookczuk
From the July 2010 Early Review batch, arrived January 2011. Wowzer, That's a long wait! Will start tomorrow.
LibraryThing member Bellettres
First of all, the writing in THE NOBODIES ALBUM is superb, and I could love it for that alone. But there are so many layers, so many stories (one of them an extremely suspenseful murder mystery) that I could not put this book down. I will go back and reread passages, now that I know how it all came out. And that's really part of the point: that fiction, like life, isn't always a one-ending-once-and-for-all deal. I loved the idea that children shape their parents, albeit in different ways, as much as parents shape their children. There were a number of complicated relationships, and Parkhurst succeeds in making them believable. In many of the books I have read lately, I didn't really care about the characters. In this novel, I care--not only about Octavia and Milo, but about the characters in the "excerpts" from Octavia's already published works. An absorbing and satisfying read.… (more)
LibraryThing member littlebookworm
Octavia Frost, a fairly ordinary novelist, has just written her most depressing book to date. Her new book, though, The Nobodies Album, is something completely different - she is rewriting the endings to all of her previous books. It's perfectly apt for this time in her life, as she wishes many parts of her life could have turned out differently. She can't begin restitution, however, until she hears shocking news: her rock star son Milo, from whom she has been estranged for years, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend. Octavia immediately flies to his home in California, not knowing what to expect, but ready for a change in her life and to support her son in the most difficult time of his. Interspersed with her story are the endings of all the books she's written, along with their new chapters, shedding ever-increasing light on the changing state of Octavia's emotions and outlook on life.

Despite the fact that it's billed as a literary mystery, I found The Nobodies Album surprisingly satisfying. It's true that the mystery wasn't particularly mysterious; there is really only one person who has any motive for murdering Milo's girlfriend Bettina, so even I, notoriously slow when it comes to solving these things, figured it out before the characters did. But I quite enjoyed the story along the way. Many of the other story elements aren't revealed until further into the book, so it takes a while to truly understand how they have all gotten to this point. Seeing things from Octavia's point of view, as an older woman who has made mistakes, tied in with the obvious change of attitude she's had displayed through the old book endings spread throughout the story, made for a very emotive and moving read.

Though beautifully written, Octavia's voice is slightly cold to start. I would encourage you to set that aside until the story gets more involved. She has reasons for acting the way that she does, and those reasons lead to the reveal of some fascinating, complex relationships - exactly what I look for in a book like this. The story takes a close look in particular at the relationships between mothers and their children; how even doing the best you can sometimes isn't quite enough, especially not in the formative years. It's true that Octavia and Milo have some terrible circumstances to deal with, but she realizes that their personalities - which are very similar - will clash while their lives are still normal. She isn't the kind of parent Milo needs, but she's the parent he has left, which leads to problems in their relationship that eventually result in their initial estrangement.

The Nobodies Album is a thoughtful and at times suspenseful literary mystery. Highly recommended to those who enjoy well-written characters and don't mind the occasional break for another thread of the story.
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LibraryThing member karenthib
I really enjoyed this book, although I wasn't at all sure the interspersing of the revised endings of the main character's novels throughout the book was going to work. I had expected it would be a distraction and a gimmick, but it added a lot of texture to the story. As the novel progressed, more and more meaning could be attributed to the new last chapters.

The mystery part of the novel was a little bit unsatisfying -- I had a strong hunch who the killer turned out to be pretty early on -- but the journey was an entertaining one. A couple of the characters were slightly annoying to me -- the mother of the deceased girlfriend was a bit cliche. For as much as she was involved, I would have liked to have seen a little resolution between her and Octavia. I'm also unsure what the point of the high school friend-turned-rock-groupie-turned-facebook-friend was. Beyond her importance to one of the scenes in the book, there wasn't much use for her. All that being said, this was a very entertaining read with a lot to say about parent-child relationships, especially those made more strained by the pain of loss.
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LibraryThing member julyso
The Nobodies Album is about novelist Octavia Frost, who has just finished her latest novel....a book of ending rewrites of her previous books. On her way to see her publisher, she finds out her son, Milo, has been arrested for murder. Octavia and Milo have been estranged for many years, but she flies to San Fransciso to be with her son. Octavia catches up with Milo's friends, meets his little girl, and helps him figure out what happened that night....

I could have loved this book, but the format just didn't work for me. The excerpts from her novels distracted me and made it hard to keep everything straight. I liked the author's writing & I enjoyed Octavia's story. The mystery wasn't much of a mystery. In the end, I was just glad to get the book finished.
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LibraryThing member txwildflower
The Nobodies Album is about the healing of a mother and son. After being estranged for several years the mother, Octavia, a famous writer learns her rock star son is accused of killing his girfriend. She immediately flies to San Francisco and tries to put the puzzle together of what really happened. An engrossing mystery and a book as good or better than her first novel "The Dogs of Babel"… (more)
LibraryThing member AObenhaus
I couldn't put this book down! The characters were addictive and the plot twisted. The ending made me want more of the story! Maybe there will be another book based on Octavia and Milo? One could hope.
LibraryThing member CatieN
This book was well-written and enjoyable. Best-selling author Octavia Frost gets out of a cab in Times Square and sees the news in flashing lights that her rock-star son, Milo, has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend, Bettina. Octavia is in shock, and to further complicate matters, she and Milo have not spoken for four years. They have a tragic past that is slowly revealed through the investigation of Bettina's murder and through stories within the story. Octavia decides to rewrite the endings to all 7 of her books, and the original and the rewritten endings are included in this book. I actually loved the stories within a story but did find it somewhat confusing when the author returned to the main story. The " murder mystery" is definitely a small part of the book, figured it out early on. The main focus is the relationship between Octavia and Milo and what brought them to the point of not having any contact for years. My only complaint about the book would be that I felt the other characters were two-dimensional, not nearly as well-written as Octavia and Milo. Overall, a good read for fiction lovers.… (more)
LibraryThing member RachelPenso
I started reading this book with really low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised. The main character in the book is an author whose estranged rock-and-roll superstar son is accused of murdering his girlfriend. The story was nice and at times even exciting, but my favorite thing about the book was the main character's idea for her next book. She decided to take the endings of all her previously published books and revise them. So throughout the book, there were "excerpts" from the ending of the main character's books (which were really more like short stories for the sake of our own understanding and enjoyment) and then the new ending. I found this a very interesting concept.… (more)
LibraryThing member thelitwitch
While the premise was good, I had a really hard time with the format of this book. The almost senseless excerpts from the fictional narrator's books didn't add much value other than to disturb and depress. Frankly, I'm tired of authors who feel the need to garner attention with these sorts of gimmicks. That aside, Parkhurst does have a certain gift for creating a mood and sustaining it. That much, at least, was done well.… (more)
LibraryThing member GarySeverance
The Nobodies Album is a very entertaining novel. The straight forward narrative style reminds me of Pat Conroy in his novel, Beach Music. The structure also is similar to the Conroy book, including breaks in the story to introduce several other stories. The narrator, Octavia, is a writer who has written novels herself and attempts to rewrite the endings from a new point of view given her current level of development. The rewrites add to the main story and are influenced by Octavia's memories of her loves and losses as a mother. I looked forward to the novels with the plots presented briefly and the endings rewritten. They built on each other and helped in understanding the characters' motivations in the mystery story involving Octavia's rock star son and an accusation of murder.

Octavia examines her creative work and daily life focusing on observations of coincidence and synchronicity, women and children, loss and endurance, immediate reactions and dissociations, creative drive and withdrawal, and commitment and acceptance. A common thread through these themes is that we are the result of "all those years of accumulated decisions and acts of chance." We can revisit our past and see it in a new light, but rewriting it does not change the effects the past has had on us. Instead we should gain new insight and think about our personal histories but "write" something new to reflect our evolution as individuals.

This very good novel requires concentration on the inserted novel rewrites as they set the stage for the only possible ending to the mystery story. Ms. Parkhurst gives credit in the dedication to her own father for teaching her how to tell a story. She learned her lesson well.
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LibraryThing member CMash
The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 978-0-385-52769-9
At the request of Doubleday, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book's jacket): Octavia Frost is a former bestselling writer in the winter of her career. In the opening pages of this dynamic novel, she arrives in New York to deliver her latest manuscript-a revolutionary new book-to her editor. But as she walks through Times Square , she sees a news crawl announcing that Milo, Frost, her rock-star son, has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend.
Octavia and Milo haven't spoken in years, an estrangement stemming from a horrific tragedy the two of them endured when he was a child. Yet Octavia cannot help but drop everything and fly to San Francisco to try to make sense of the situation.
The book Octavia was supposed to deliver contains rewritten versions of the final chapters of all her previous novels, in which she has changed her character' outcomes and removed pieces of her personal life that had been hidden within, especially concerning that terrible days years ago, These "last' chapters" and their new revisions are interspersed throughout Carolyn Parkhurst's The Nobodies Album-the scattered puzzle pieces of the troubled past Milo and Octavia share.
Did she drive her son to murder? Did Milo murder anyone at all? And what exactly happened all those years ago? As the novel builds to a stunning reveal, Octavia must consider how her own story will come to a close.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I had a hard time with the beginning of this book. I felt that at times it was very "wordy" and "dry", and not sure where the plot was headed. There were eight (8) chapters that had been written by the character of the author and her ground breaking concept of her newest manuscript, whereas it had the original ending of one of her prior novels and then a new and different ending. Another thing that I felt was hard to relate to, which was stated in the synopsis, and that was the many years of estrangement between the characters of mother and son. It appeared to this reader, and this is my opinion only, that son's response, was unrealistic and too nonchalant when they were reunited after many years of bitterness and being apart. On the other hand, the suspense of trying to piece together the clues of finding the murderer in the cast of characters, what was the underlying reason for the estrangement and a few other issues that I won't mention due to it containing spoilers, is what kept my interest and had me turning the pages. Since I found this novel to be a 50/50 read I will rate it accordingly.
My Rating: 3
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LibraryThing member jannyg
this book is both a mystery and a story about family. Though it took me a while to get into it, once in I looked forward to reading it. This a very well written and clever story.
LibraryThing member Heatherlee1229
Bestselling author Octavia Frost is in New York City to pitch her new book to her agent when she learns via the local news that her son, Milo, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend, Bettina. Though she and Milo have been estranged for four years, Octavia drops everything and travels to be with him in San Francisco. While she is learning about what her son’s been up to for the last four years, she is also on a quest to find out who really killed Bettina, and this takes her on a journey through her own past as well.

I’d been looking forward to reading The Nobodies Album ever since I saw it listed in LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers directory. I did win it from there, but it came much later than expected so I actually read it via the audio version from the library. I really enjoyed the audio version and I’m sure that it is just as good, if not better, in print.

One of the most compelling aspects of The Nobodies Album is Octavia herself. While she’s not the easiest character to like, it is clear that she has a lot of demons in her past and I really wanted to understand her better. Some details of her life are revealed up front, but others emerge slowly throughout the novel. I was particularly interested to find out why she and Milo didn’t speak for so many years and what really happened to her husband and daughter, both of whom died when Milo was a child. These pieces of the puzzle are uncovered slowly, which made me really enjoy the journey of getting to know Octavia.

I probably should tell you that the book Octavia is pitching when she learns of Milo’s situation is also called The Nobodies Album, and it is a compilation of the rewritten endings of all of her novels. In Parkhurst’s novel, Octavia’s endings are interspersed throughout the text, giving the reader a sort of novel-within-a-novel experience, which was interesting for me. On the one hand, I certainly enjoyed getting to know Octavia better through her own writing. But on the other hand, these snippets had a way of distracting me and making me feel impatient to get to the “real” story. So I’m not sure that I loved this device, although it certainly added a little something extra to the book.

The mystery of who killed Bettina really propelled me through the book. I was very interested to find out what really happened, and I had my suspicions, but it was interesting to see it come together and to find out, most importantly, why that person did what he/she did. I found this part of the book to be done really well.

The Nobodies Album is a complex novel that has a lot of moving parts, all of which come together seamlessly in the end. There is a novel within this novel, too, and that made the entire experience just that more interesting. I enjoyed The Nobodies Album quite a bit and I’ll be reading more of Parkhurst’s novels whenever I can get my hands on them.
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