Newest Review: ... of Brendan and Sherilyns family and the defendants themselves. This is obviously not an original one of doing this I've seen it use... more
Monsters in my back yard.
Monster Love - Carol Topolski
Member Name: Emma1973
Monster Love - Carol Topolski
Advantages: Easy to read chapters
Disadvantages: The writing is basic
Monster Love is essentially the story of Samantha, the child of Brendan and Sherilyn Gutteridge. Brendan and Sherilyn move into The Crescent where they quickly become the focus of nosy neighbours, especially Charlotte. Lonely since her husband died and with her only grand-daughter across the world in Australia she takes an extra interest in the now pregnant Sherilyn and then the new baby Samantha. The elusive Gutteridges spurn all attempts at friendliness and live in their own little bubble. Then one day after 6 months Charlotte realises she hasn't seen the child for 6 months. After 2 visits by a social worker which amount to nothing, a call by the police investigating a burglary go into the house to find the full horror of events. The rest of the book then concerns itself with events as Brendan and Sherilyn go on trial for the murder of Samantha. It's not a spoiler when I say she was murdered as its pretty obvious right from the beginning.
The book is actually broken up into chapters, each narrated by someone close to the tragedy or family members. This includes the policeman who initially found Samantha's body, the neighbour, the social worker, members of Brendan and Sherilyns family and the defendants themselves.
This is obviously not an original one of doing this I've seen it used several times, but I like the use of it here, it allows you to concentrate on each of the narrators instead of jumping back and forwards in one chapter trying to remember what what someone had just said whilst trying to read what someone else is saying!
As mentioned already each chapter is written by a separate person and apart from a couple of the last chapters its written as if the person is talking directly to you and telling you the story from their perspective. Obviously its from male and female characters perspective and they do talk differently as would each characters. You would therefore expect each to have something unique each one. Topolski manages this somewhat, but if you just read something generic for each chapter it probably would be very difficult to guess what gender the narrator was, at even at points who exactly is speaking.
There are some stand-out characters, in particular the policeman who finds the body of Samantha, it really is possible to see his breakdown happen and empathise with all his feelings. There's also the social worker who brings up feelings of having seen this all before, Sherilyns father who reveals a shocking secret and the neighbour Charlotte who suffers feelings of guilt and extreme guilt.
Brendan and Sherilyn are obviously very noticeable as well. It's very hard to empathise with either of them. They definitely have some traits of being psychopaths or sociopaths and reading their views and why they murdered her. To read that they viewed this innocent child as something that was there to try and break them up is shocking, as is their decision to go to South America to escape her grasp. They are almost one person who know what each other is thinking and feeling and this is demonstrated even when in prison separately which leads to the somewhat daft conclusion.
They are such shocking characters that as you read the other characters stories you search for little clues as to why they could be the way they are, and unusually there isn't really anything which is very unusual, many writers seek to discover why the protagonist is the way he/she is. I'm sorry to say that having a sibling who becomes the favourite is no excuse and if that's the kind of thing Topolski wants us to believe can cause this then that's just childish writing.
There's also a couple of themes or issues that keep popping up in the book, the first is alcohol. At least 3 of the characters turn to alcohol to deal with what happens and it seems to pop up with Brendan and Sherilyn quite often. Then there's the issue of Brendan's homosexuality, we know he was having a relationship with a man before Sherilyn, and he has a relationship with a man in prison. I don't understand why this is in the book, there's no mention of it being an issue in what happens, nor does it appear to have shaped his personality, so again I don't understand it. I can only guess that Topolski wants us to dislike Brendan or make him seem a lesser person because he has relationships with men and women. In this enlightened days I would hope this wouldn't happen!
There's so much I could say about this book and what happens, particularly the story of Sherilyn, who's name isn't Sherilyn by the way, it's Linda which she discarded after leaving home, but then you wouldn't need to read it yourself! Did I enjoy the book? You know, I'm not really sure i can say either way, as you might have noticed above I've found some of it to be a bit immature. What I did find was that I had this morbid fascination with knowing what happened and trying to find out why they behaved the way they did, this was perhaps piqued by the fact I'm studying forensic psychology. The problem is that I got no answers and very few hints so I was left frustrated. I was also really surprised to find out the writer is a psychoanalyst because this book is at the level of Psychology 101!
It's a good read for the shocking events and the mind boggling reasons why this happened but prepare to feel a little frustrated!
Summary: The story of a couple who refused to be parted by anything