Book plots often can be summarized in a few sentences, but it’s the evolution of the plot that makes a novel a success or failure. Case in point: author Hill Anderson’s novel Stoneport. While the story offers an intriguing premise, it ultimately stumbles as the plot takes its course.
Stoneport follows the career of Eli Fox, a young family therapist at a residence for mentally ill patients where he also supervises Dr. Megan Rush, a young medical resident and his co-counselor in couple’s therapy. Eli and Megan both carry unresolved emotional baggage from childhood that enables them to be empathetic counselors. Unfortunately, this also contributes to their professional downfall when they develop a sexual relationship with each other that Megan’s lawyer husband discovers.
Co-starring intermittently with the Eli/Megan drama is a very contemporary threat of a for-profit takeover to pull Stoneport out of a financial hole.
All of this should provide adequate fodder for en engrossing novel, but Anderson, an experienced psychotherapist, gets lost in his own talking cure. Countless pages burdened with Stoneport staff members intellectualizing about psychological theories not only impede the flow of the plot but may deter most readers from finishing the book. Even Eli’s sailing experiences and Megan’s martial arts lessons are heavily overwritten and stagger under far too many details.
This book often seems to be a textbook masquerading thinly as fiction. At one point, Eli notes that he is “sick of cognitive relativity. Was anything absolutely true, or was it all interpretation?” Readers will likely feel the same weariness as the pages turn.
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