Claire Marvel by John Burnham Schwartz

A few year’s back I read Jonathan Burnham Schwartz’s devastating novel Reservation Road and was really impressed. So I was really looking forward to reading Claire Marvel. The book’s opening lines: “There was before her and now there is after her and that is the difference in my life” promised great things- but I’m not sure Schwartz actually delivers.

The book is narrated by Julian Rose, a grad student at Harvard who meets and falls immediately in love with Claire Marvel during a rainstorm. The book traces their relationship through all the requisite romantic obstacles and I suppose I can fairly say that the only thing that prevents this book from being totally been there, done that is the quality of Schwartz’s prose.

As Julian chases and abandons and chases and abandons the love of his life- we are never really certain of her and, in fact, even though the book is named after her- we really come to know very little about Claire as a person.

Members of my book club loved this book…but I found it somehow unsatisfying.

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