Yes, You Can Judge Kristin Hannah’s Home Front By Its Cover

To be fair, I knew what I was getting in to with Kristin Hannah’s Home Front. You don’t publish a book with a dreamy pastel cover of a beach and blurry background people unless it’s the kind of book where clothing, hair, facial feature, landscape and home decor descriptions sound like they were written for the J. Peterman catalogue (which I didn’t realize until just now was both real and wonderful).

Examples:

“The small town of Poulsbo, Washington, sat like a pretty little girl along the shores of Liberty Bay.”

Poulsbo, the prettiest little lady in Washington.

“As the ferry slowed, Michael got up and collected his papers, putting the deposition back in the black lambskin briefcase.”

I have a particular pet peeve for descriptions of luxury that aren’t actually meant to signal anything about the characters themselves. Character is rich, thus he owns expensive things. Were he poor and trying to appear rich, or if he were insecure about himself physically, this description might mean something. Otherwise, it’s just consumer porn.

“In the glass, he saw a ghostly image of himself — wavy black hair, strong, squared jaw, dark eyes.”

Quick question: how many lawyers have hair long enough to be considered wavy? Actually, better question: when was the last time you saw a man with a strong, square jaw and dark, wavy hair? Because they seem to be everywhere in books and 90s TV shows and nowhere in life.

Just my usual “court hair.”

“After feeding the girls, she bathed in scented water, shaved, slathered her skin with a citrus-scented lotion, and then slipped into a pair of comfortable jeans and a black boatnecked sweater.”

Not at all relevant to the plot or character development whatsoever. Just in case you were wondering. Still consumer porn.

So luxurious, so character-defining.

“Betsy was sitting up in bed, with her social studies book open in her lap. Her corn silk blond hair fell in fusilli curls along her bare, skinny arms.”

That’s too much food for one head.

“The captain lived in a pretty Wedgwood-blue tract house with a white trim and a wraparound porch.”

… thought the lead character, a military helicopter pilot and not a Re/Max agent.

The book is also filled with a young mother’s advice to her two daughters. Advice that was carefully honed from years of watching Oprah.

Jolene sighed. “I wish I could make all this easier on you. But only you can do that. You need to be your best self, Betsy.”

Oprah and her dog, both being their best selves.

Her husband is not being his best self, however.

 “His idealism, once so shiny and bright, had been dulled by years of defending the guilty.”

If only someone had told him that being a lawyer might involve compromised morals. More to the point: of course the lead character’s husband is a lawyer. Lawyer, doctor and small business owner are the only three professions possible for a man in a book like this.

But at least he’s hot.

“For a moment, she was struck by how good-looking he was. His black hair, still without a trace of gray at forty-five, was damp and wavy.”

Wavy again? Yes, wavy again. By the way, if you weren’t sure what the lead character’s eye color was at first, don’t worry. The author will remind you at least once a chapter.

“Your honor, I’d like to request a quick recess to re-toussle my hair.”

Surprisingly I’m not hating this book. It’s awful, don’t get me wrong, but it is what it is, and it’s a genre and a writing style that people find easy to digest. It’s also chock-full of flag-waving on the part of Military Mom and despicable snobbery on the part of Blue State Dad, and it’s clear that this is being aimed at women who are a little less rich, a little less skinny and a little less pretty the lead character, but can essentially put themselves in her shoes. And yes, that was a direct shot at the author (pictured at the top of the post).

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2 thoughts on “Yes, You Can Judge Kristin Hannah’s Home Front By Its Cover

  1. I like the sheer laziness of describing a character when he sees his own reflection, because it suggests the character is examining himself the same way we’re examining him.

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