Friday, May 8, 2009

To The Ends Of The Earth by Elizabeth Lowell - ?

I'm unclear how to rate this. I have read this book, in paperback, 2 or 3 times, as a keeper, 5 star read. It's classic Lowell - asshole hero who bases all his decisions about women on his asshole ex-wife who ripped him off; heroine who also has opinions about men based on her asshole ex-husband but doesn't really let that rule her decision making.

This time I listened to it on audio. The narrator is good - she brings life to the characters and to the story. Unfortunately, she manages to bring to life the true assholiness of Travis, our erstwhile complete jerk hero, more than I ever picked up when I read it, and for that I'm not sure I like it as a 5 star read anymore!

He's a super-rich sailboat designer who comes from super-rich boating family. His first wife lied to him about having a miscarriage when she really had an abortion; he bought her off with a million bucks and divorced her. His new creed: he can only buy women because all they want is money. So, all his relationships with women are business arrangements - some amount of money for sex and companionship only. If he ever marries, it will be to a woman with a greater net worth that his own so he can be sure she doesn't want his money.

She's Catherine/Cat/Cathy, a photographer who is stretched to the limit by a couple of overdue accounts (to the tune of over $50,000) plus a needy mother and 2 siblings she is putting through med school. So it's not so much that her net worth is low, but more that her expenses are temporarily high and her income temporarily low. Her first marriage was to a rich boy who wanted children. When they didn't conceive and his sperm count was something like low but still viable, he and she both assumed she was sterile; he punished her - she left him. So her new creed: stay away from rich boys.

In classic Lowell style, both of their creeds are repeated over and over and over and over and over, both in their speech and in their thoughts. I GET IT ALREADY. No need to keep repeating it! Travis is determined to make Cat name her price, but when they get together, lust overtakes all sense and they boink like bunnies and forget to talk about their issues.

Cat works too much and is run down, missing periods, gets only a few hours sleep, forgets to eat (she doesn't sound very appealing, so I'm not sure what Travis sees in her, practically a walking cadaver). The doctor admonishes her to eat better, sleep more, work less. Cat thinks over and over about January, when her mother will marry someone who will take care of her, and her siblings will graduate from med school and her money worries will be over. Travis tries to take care of her, but what he really wants to do is sail away with her, and she can't - she has responsibilities. He sees that as another confirmation that all she cares about is money, and offers to pay. She sees that as what it is - forced prostitution and complete disregard for her art, her life and her family! WHAT AN ASSHOLE.

When, surprise surprise, Cat does manage to get pregnant, she is ecstatic but Travis decides that what Cat wants is not money, but to force him to marry her (so she can have his money?). He says he'll pay for the baby and once it's born, take it and she is out of his life and the baby's life forever. She says Go To Hell, It's My Baby, Stuff Your Money Where The Sun Don't Shine. Then - despite the fact that the doctor tells her over and over there's no way she'll be able to keep the fetus in her overworked, undernourished body - she tries complete bed rest to keep the baby. At this point I'm thinking she's not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

So I'm conflicted because now I don't think I like it anymore. I'm not even sure what to rate it - formerly 5 stars, now...??

No comments: