Book Review | “Some Other Town” by Elizabeth Collison

Posted Friday, 6 March, 2015 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a tour stop on the “Some Other Town” virtual book tour through TLC Book Tours. I received a complimentary ARC copy of the book direct from the publisher HarperCollins Publishers, in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. Except to say, shortly after I received my copy of “Some Other Town”, the blog tour itself was cancelled quite unexpectedly. I still was quite curious to read this novel, as it held such a curious plot inside it itching for me to discover where it would lead me to venture. Therefore, I picked a new date (originally the 3rd of March) to post my review off-tour. A few technical and life moments interrupting my plans, I’ve finally been able to share my thoughts on the 6th of March! I was thankful Trish @ TLC was able to help me with the book cover, synopsis, and author biography as my tech errors were driving me a bit batty ahead of my review!

Books to take a chance on:

You have to understand, I have a thirst for stories which do not fit within a ‘particular box of genre or literary category of interest’, and thus, this particular novel spoke to me to request! I have previously mentioned a bit about how it is to receive a list of books coming up for review and selection on a blog tour — this beautiful sub-culture of book bloggers who have found a niche within their own individual online world of bookish culture, news, and the geektastically brilliant joy of being wrapped inside the ‘art of discovering’ a new to me author!

I have a penchant for time slips and time travel narratives, but also, the more oblique and abstract of where time, dimension, and the human conscience travel within a narrative arc. The lines by which begin to blur between reality, dreams, and the innermost desires of a human mind to voyage inside as the person within the soul attempts to sort through a few things. This introspective pursuit of alighting within the partitions of ‘time’ where there is a living ‘outside of time yet in-step with the living reality’ which consumes of us all. The kinds of stories where you are broaching into a nether space of original thought and the context of which can either resonate or dispel the appeal of what pulled you into the synopsis.

Ironically or not, as I was sorting out how to begin my review tonight, I had this unexpectedly lovely conversation with a novelist whose ‘this side of cosy hard-boiled’ new release is on the fringes of being promoted in the near future – mind you, I caught up with her on Twitter the very day she purchased her new domain for her newly minted website! Champion, eh? Without deferring to my favourite way to capture these moments encased in the randomness of wicked sweet conversations, you will find the gist of our convo timelined on Twitter itself! If you want to make sure you can catch the rest of our thread, kindly pull up my feeds, and happily follow it along!

It was inside this particular convo, I aligned my thoughts ahead of my ruminations! Because part of my instinctive joy, is remaining on ‘the edge of where fiction has gone and where it can become inventively curious’ to follow! Hence why my dedicated passion continues, after having found Lemongrass Hope at round Mid-Summer in 2014! Others have bewitched me, but this particular one I bring back to your attention, dear heart, due to how ‘time, space, and mind’ were entwined.

Further still, another TLC tour beckoned to me, except this time I was too late on the switch to participate; giving me a fervent desire to seek out The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson at my local library post haste! You can see on the blog tour page what sparked my interest as it is curiously aligned with Some Other Town. In the end, I turnt in a purchase request in order to curb the ‘six months out wait from publication’ to request it through ILL’ing! Confirmation of it being ordered arrived half a day after I left these remarks upon this review prior to posting it live! I cannot even express how giddy it made me feel knowing I’d have my hands on a copy!

Book Review | “Some Other Town” by Elizabeth CollisonSome Other Town
by Elizabeth Collison
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours

"But here is the strangest part. Now in the mornings when I wake from the dream, for an instant it's as if there are two of me. The one that will rise and go off to work and come home again to Mrs. Eberline. And the one that awakes from the dream of the van and feels something inside of her rising. Quickening, yearning, keening."

Margaret Lydia Benning, twenty-eight and adrift, still lives in the same Midwest town where she went to college. By day, she works at the Project, a nonprofit publisher of children's readers housed in a former sanatorium. There she shares the fourth floor with a squadron of eccentric editors and a resident ghost from the screamers' wing. At night, Margaret returns alone to her small house on Mott Street, with only her strange neighbor, Mrs. Eberline, for company.

Emotionally sleepwalking through the days is no way to lead a life. But then Margaret meets Ben Adams, a visiting professor at the university. Through her deepening relationship with Ben she glimpses a future she had never before imagined, and for the first time she has hope . . . until Ben inexplicably vanishes. In the wake of his disappearance, Margaret sets out to find him. Her journey, a revelatory exploration of the separate worlds that exist inside us and around us, will force her to question everything she believes to be true.

Told through intertwined perspectives, by turns incandescent and haunting, Some Other Town is an unforgettable tale, with a heartbreaking twist, of one woman's awakening to her own possibility.

Places to find the book:

Genres: Literary Fiction


Published by Harper Perennial

on 24th February, 2015

Pages: 304

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: Harper Perennial (@HarperPerennial),
an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (@HarperCollins)
Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #SomeOtherTown

About Elizabeth Collison

Elizabeth Collison grew up in the Midwest and now lives in the San Francisco Bay area. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has worked as an editor, graphic artist, and technical writer. This is her first novel.

If it were by a memory wrapped inside of a dream:

Words wicked into the early pages of Some Other Town draw your emotions and your eye to stay with the narrator, even as the climax is pushing you into this eclipsed vortex where a tire lost on ice takes a trajectory you might not want to see through. Collison captures your heart by the way in which she’s giving you the information, a bit of a rapid-pause catch of a breath spell casting you into an emotional state of the character without yielding too much of a takeaway as to what is originating the intensity of thought. A mind bent backwards, refusing to let memory erase the dream or is it the dream attempting to erase the memory? Where does the mind separate the two if both parts are equally as strong as they are inter-dependent upon the other?

My review of Some Other Town:

A journalling of thoughts collide against each other, thriving for the space to express the frequency of a mind lit with an urgency to uncover what has become quite amiss. A chance to sort out something just outside of memory yet alerted within the mind. This knowing gathering of a sixth sense about what is not visually seen or internally felt, but rather ‘known’ for whichever way it has allowed the person to become apparent of it’s existence. These extraneous notions of where our lives intercept with foreknowledge and signs of things yet to come.

Margaret Lydia Benning is earnest in her inattention to being ordinary, as she curls up inside her everyday hours with a dashing of interest thrown against a moderate sense of how extraordinary it is to occupy the same spaces each day without any gleam of insight into those who walk or sit next to you. People who take the same routes to work, silently commuting and habitual in the wheres, whens, and hows as much as the predictable weather patterns. Benning has a curious eye for detail, not the regular sort you might believe to fly against the ink blots but rather, a bending towards lesser spoken observations or the curiosities of why we attach ourselves to notice certain people at certain moments wherein a memory might not even be fully warranted.

She makes logistical sense in her yearnings to seek a home to draw down her roots whereupon you do not have to step within the chaotic spin of city life each time you want to enjoy your free time. She had a glimpse of a street where she was at first struck by how it was it’s own island, cast out yet left tethered to the city in which she worked. I liked how Collison describes this need to ‘belong without being glued together’ in a manner which seeks to erase a personal distance from the populace. Not that you want to be completely ‘removed’ from your neighbours or community, but to find a place which is equally independent yet wholly fused into the nexus of where you live is a true ideal to pursue!

Collison’s quirkily beguiling character of Mrs Eberline is equal parts falsification of security within the framework of one’s neighbourhood and a bemused eccentricity of geriatric senility. It is hard to rectify into words to express what Mrs E brings out of me as I read her passages — part of me is inclined to agree with Margaret’s co-worker Frances, there are situations you best avoid or defuse outright before your life extricates itself past recognition.

Books and the publishing life therein, felt a bit of an odd choice of field for Margaret, as she’s detached from most of her environ. She lives between the veils of hour and night, peering through a lens that could give her a way to wield a pen, if she were to clue herself in to what ignites her curios into question! A drum can beat every which way to Sunday, yet it is only soundly heard if the player is in step with it’s own chord. Parallel to her self-indulgence to understand the merits of her life thus far along, we entertain a visitant who takes up his own space of peculiarities and particulars. His life is concurrent to Margaret’s yet without the frame of how time affect his actions. Hers is set to a standard: live, work, time-off, whereas in the passages involving this un-named bloke, we only see certain pieces of who he is and rather, in that expanse, we start to question his sanity.

A tip-toe dance around mental health and wellness, is an undercurrent of the novel, as Margaret’s own job is housed in a retrofitted asylum for the unwell. A trend we can even see in our own reality of her Midwestern world, where asylum’s have new beginnings as complexes of commerce as much as the physical wellness of it’s inhabitors.

The visitant is equally caught out of his own life’s path towards his future; burnt out and disillusioned, his path now is a renewal of how to capture back the joy he felt for creative expression in his youth. If he could capture a way to fall back in love with his field (fine art) and if perchance of fate would lend him a kindness, a passage back to where life made a bit more sense. His voice is unheard by most, and of whom he entrusts his confidences now lend the impression his self-worth has become deflated by those who either did not trust him or accept him as he were.

One of the most heart-warming sections of Some Other Town is the eclipse of Joe Trout, not your ordinary fish story, mind you, but one that has a bit of insight into how what is seen is not always perceived as it is laid flat and bare in front of your eyes. It’s a beautiful overture of how artist and story intersect whilst audiences can be left a bit muddled for the directional vision a story can yield.

A second moment where my heart hitched a knowing balm of joy is where Margaret’s mysteriously absent boyfriend is attempting to teach his new students how to breathe life to the canvas by first seeing what the heart sees within the image of their mind’s eye. To visualise what they are motivated to create, yet to curate a knowledge of how art and the world around us are symbiotically entwined without having to be carbon copies of each other. Art by definition can re-design and re-envision what is present, as for each artist who is inspired to find their creative voice, there is a new dimension of art being created to view. His character has shifted a bit in the story, slightly out of focus, out of mind of Margaret, but not fully so. He lives secondary to where her narrative is guiding you to walk; until their lines blur into each other as if a painter blended the oils on canvas. Reflectively tuning you into where each of them chose their own fork in the road nearly without conviction of knowledge they had taken a new avenue.

Collison set the pace of Some Other Town as if to enchant you with an oral history of Margaret in lieu of a novel containing her story. Dialogue is not the priority, no, the best bits lie between the drifts of conversation to gather within the narrative itself – seeking out how Margaret wishes to put her life on display, or rather encourage you to listen to how she wants it all to fold together. Flyaway memories and out of sequence daily routines leave you pensive for where this little wonder of a book is going to end. It is the type of story you devour as you consume it’s text, despite how difficult it is to put into words within a review. Your mind is lit with everything that is happening, muddled a bit on how to articulate what it is truly that has captured you; the pages cannot be consumed fast enough, the words eaten as if they were tombs of insight into Margaret’s inner world. A soliloquy if you will.

Curiously, there are moments when I am reading Collison’s eloquency in a prose set to rhyme, where I think back on the poet who gave me such a shot of elixir as a child! She has a gift for turning and bending her words and sentences into an implosion of sorts – she gives out certain clues, then collapses the thought before it is seen and caught. Her words dance and flit, capture and pause, arch and flex; as if we were reading a story set out of time, out of step with the hours in which Margaret lives. And, isn’t that truly then, the heart of the novel? Is Margaret living in or out of her own time-window? Or rather still, is Some Other Town a portal to step outside our own? If up is down and down is up, it is how you choose to attach yourself into that crystal void and extract out the filigree from the moss!

Fly in the Ointment:

Dear me! I was thankful Some Other Town was absent of vulgarity, so much so, imagine my gobsmacked horror to find my least favourite word spilt onto page 178! One hundred and seventy-eight pages without any other strong word implied or writ, and we have to find this one? I admit, the cause for it’s usage is thick and tight with emotional angst due to the circumstances involved, (it is a passage about a news story which is just too wrought with anguish) but why? Why go to the bother to seek out every wickedly beautiful word I happily consumed up until this page — words which hardly ever are used in other novels or are wholly new in appearance overall, if you are going to cheapen the ending half of the novel with a word which doesn’t need to be voiced? Sighs.

Why Literary Fiction is a challenge I love taking with an open mind:

If I had to speculate on why Literary Fiction appeals to me as a reader, I would have to say it’s due to my natural tendency of striving to keep an open mind about everything that is both possible and plausible; within the chapters of our living realities and those within our fictional realms. A bit of a nod towards this was made when I assembled the badge on my Story Vault; where I alert the visitor to my bookish blog, I am ruminatively seeking stories giving me a well-on stimulating read!

I am quite sure I read more selections of this particular section than I give proper credit of in the Vault itself, however, as true to my nature as an organiser of my thoughts, I elect to place each story inside ‘each bracket’ of literature I feel best suits it’s position on the list I am generating. If I were to take only the section where I highlight Literary Fiction, my top favourites would soon reveal:

Each of these stories gave me a full lock-stop pause on the curious passages each of the writers left behind for me to discover. Each of these novels are originally true on their own accord, taking you deeper into the conscience mind of their protagonists and leaving you with an experience which bisects both the logical and emotional state of living forward and through our lives.

I am slated to read two more selections on behalf of TLC:

  • The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank {22nd April, 2015}
  • Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert {30th April, 2015}

I hope you will join me when my reviews on the tour alight into view!

Reader Interactive Question: Until then, I am quite curious what draws you inside fiction of which grants you an introspective experience through a character whose bent of perception of the world is either resonating with you in recognition OR challenging you by how they internalise what happens to them as they live?

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.
This book review was courtesy of TLC Book Tours:
TLC Book Tours | Tour Host
Although there isn’t a definitive schedule for the book reviews, I have found a few book bloggers who host for TLC posting their own impressions upon this book: ( I LOVE Twitter! )

Review: Some Other Town by Elizabeth Collison (The Bookbinder’s Daughter – (thebookbindersdaughter.com)

Some Other Town (She Treads Softly – (shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com)

Some Other Town by Elizabeth Collison (Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – insatiablereaders.blogspot.com)*

*If I might add, ironically or not, we both had our own life moments distracting us from reading this particular book! I love it when I find other book bloggers who are as engaging with their readership as I tend to be myself! I do disclose if a life moment and/or an unexpected technical malfunction or natural weather disaster disrupts my reading joy and/or the pre-scheduled bookish events of my blog, however, this particular book blogger had me smirking into smiles whilst reading how she related her own life ahead of the review itself! Humour is the lifebone of our lives as it ebbs away our daily stress!

May I re-iterate how much I enjoy being a TLC Book Hostess!?

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.
See what I am hosting next:

Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva

{SOURCES: Cover art of “Some Other Town”, book synopsis, author biography and the tour badge were all provided by TLC Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Bookish Events badge created by Jorie in Canva. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Fiction Writers Blog Hop badge created by Jorie in Canva. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

I tweet as I read, I encourage you to share:

Fiction Writers Blog Hop badge created by Jorie in Canva.

{shared this review April 2015}

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie

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Posted Friday, 6 March, 2015 by jorielov in 20th Century, ARC | Galley Copy, Art, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookish Discussions, Clever Turns of Phrase, Contemporary Romance, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Fly in the Ointment, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Illustration for Books & Publishing, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Library Love, Literary Fiction, Local Libraries | Research Libraries, Lyrical Quotations, Medical Fiction, Mental Health, Psychiatric Facilities, Singletons & Commitment, Small Towne Fiction, Sociological Behavior, The Seventies, TLC Book Tours, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage




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2 responses to “Book Review | “Some Other Town” by Elizabeth Collison

  1. Hi Jorie! Nice to make your acquaintance.
    I was delighted to hear that you enjoyed this read despite my own experience but as we agreed, that’s part of what makes reading SO MUCH FUN! Every book may not be for every reader, but every experience is without a doubt unique. What you get from a story is very much influenced by what’s knocking around in your own mind at the time, your past experiences, your current lot in life, as well as the ability of the author’s writing style to connect with you.
    Happy reading!

    • Hallo, Gina!

      You’ve said it quite perfectly — reading is such an introspective adventure for the reader; all of our own experiences, thoughts, beliefs, etc are fuelling our experience with any one story, it is hard to fathom which novel will touch us the most because it becomes it’s own individual experience for us at the time we’re reading it! :) I loved how you expressed your comment, as I completely agree with you! Yet, even knowing that, I celebrate all our different views and opinions, because sometimes one of us might see something the other didn’t or we can accept that despite the different ways a story impressioned us, for this one story in time we were united in being in a position to read it at the same ‘time’.

      I look forward to visiting your blog more in order to see what other stories you’ve recently have been reading and finding new conversations to begin with you. I appreciated your visit and your lovely compliment on behalf of all readers! :)

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