Genre: Fiction; Author: Gabrielle Zevin; Publisher: Miramax

A familiar tale: Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy visits girl’s hometown and meets the offbeat quartet of ladies she calls her family. He then learns that all five women may actually be the product of a spell placed upon his new lover by her spinster aunt, who split the girl into five separate beings who will not become whole until she finds true love. Curiously, this strange setup seems almost plausible thanks to Gabrielle Zevin’s effectively taut prose. But she employs too many cute tricks that keep the reader at arm’s length (naming her narrator N., blocking out names and years for no apparent reason). By the time you reach the optimistic conclusion of Margarettown, you’ll wonder how a book so romantic can leave you feeling so cold.

Originally posted May 23 2005 — 12:00 AM EDT

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