The Color of Heaven
by Julianne MacLean (E.V. Mitchell)
More than a year ago, I said I would be writing reviews of books published by Smashwords, as it is among the most up and coming E-book publishers. Since then, the books this company publishes have gone through many changes. Part of that is due to the fact that Smashwords publishes the E-book versions of books that have already been published by some of the mainstream publishers. These have been well edited, and the writing is generally excellent. So, the reader gets the same quality read that he would have if he had bought the paper or hardbound edition.
Second, Smashwords, along with a few other E-book publishers have opened the playing field to a host of new writers who would never have been considered by any of the major publishers. Over the last few years, many of these writers have learned that if they want to attract a reading public, they need to write, edit and re-edit, so that their product is as close to professional quality as they can reasonably make it be.
Those impossible to read novels that were so badly written that they made the vanity presses a laughing stock are still out there, and they do turn up in E-books. Books like that will be with us as long as there are people who own publishing companies that will publish anything at all, regardless of the quality of the writing.
Now, what does this writer think of The Color of Heaven? If this were a first novel, she would say that Julianne MacLean should keep on writing, as surely her work will mellow and improve over time.
However, Julianne MacLean has written for and been published by Harlequin as well as St. Martins Press. This book is available for free as an E-book for the Kindle, through Amazon, and for the Nook, through Barnes and Nobel. As of this writing, there is no paper-bound edition available. Perhaps, as it is a freebie, it is not her best work. That is very sad, as it leaves this reader wondering about the quality of her other work.
On the other hand, the problem may be that this writer should not review Romance Novels. After all, the subject matter often lacks a certain sophistication. Boy meets girl, or man meets woman. The sparks fly, and then there is the inevitable love scene, which may extend for pages. There may be several of those scenes. This may in part be due to the authors of said books being uncertain of what the protagonists will do next, so they put their characters to bed. Unfortunately, if you have read one love scene, you have read them all. Yes, body parts do fit together, and it often does feel very nice. In these books, once the protagonists have made love the prescribed number of times, they go on to live happily ever after, together. The Color of Heaven is unabashedly a Romance Novel. So unabashedly so, that this writer is inclined to call it sappy.
On another note, have you ever noticed that the protagonists in those books nearly always have green eyes? Doesn’t that color tend to indicate jealousy, or insanity, or other such unpleasant things? One would think, from reading these novels, that the entire world was made up of green-eyed people.
In this novel, Sophie’s life has more than its shares of downs and ups. She marries a man with money and a good career, and she is able to develop a career of her own that she loves. She also has a quantity of money to live on that most people can only dream of having. It has often been said that money won’t buy love, or happiness. Still, we must add that it is nearly impossible to get either without first having some money. She loses a child to cancer. We have all lost friends and loved ones to cancer, and watching someone who you care about die the painful death of cancer and its treatments is harrowing. No one should ever have to endure this.
Sophie spends more than a year working through her grief. During that time she loses her husband to divorce. These are the sorts of things that would leave anyone flat on the floor. Nevertheless, they are setbacks that many of us have had to deal with. According to statistics, 50 percent of marriages now end in divorce, and according to another set of statistics, nearly 50 percent of all people in this country may come down with cancer. How we deal with our grief is individual. There is no one right or wrong way to come to terms with such losses.
For the one who has little money, the choices are either to collapse for several weeks, or months, and risk becoming homeless, or continue working, whether or not she is physically and emotionally capable of carrying that burden.
This reader found it difficult to stomach a main character who spends most of the novel collapsed in her misery, when she does have options that a lot of us do not. In the end, what you think of Sophie and the choices she makes, is purely individual.