Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rubies in the Orchard by Lynda Resnick with Francis Wilkinson

Sadly, I can't recommend Rubies in the Orchard to readers (unless they're really interested in POM Wonderful, Resnick's personal Camelot company). This book should have been more engaging. Maybe if Resnick had been as emphatic as she tells us she is with her products, she wouldn't have let so much mediocre writing slip by. Or maybe Wilkinson wasn't the right "with" guy for the job--excellent book writing is far different from newspaper or magazine writing.

Throughout the book, I got the feeling Resnick dictated, with little revision between dictation and printing. Resnick creates a sense of talking to a student-reader, which another blog reviewer calls a condescending tone, but I think the tone Resnick strove for is one of assertion; Resnick has a lot of experience and wants you to benefit from her hard-earned wisdom. Of course, if statements like, "Believe me, I know," had been stripped from drafts, some of that perceived condescension might have been mitigated.

Resnick's use of truisms and statistical yet unquantified generalities ("A number of geologists" is referred to on page 173) further undermines her authority. And for someone who declares a high level of eco-awareness, I found it hard to comprehend so many pages wasted on lauding the book, praises most people won't read--poor trees! (Myself, I tend to veer away from books with so much space utilized for curried praise, usually a precursor to my disappointment.)

There are times when the book feels like "a celebration of Me and My accomplishments," learning from"My mistakes"--all so very Mr. Rogers.

And it's not that the book is awful--it's not. It's just that the reader has to work a little too hard to stay interested from point A to point B to point C. Mostly, Resnick seems not to have fully realized what she wanted this book to be--a book about marketing or a marketing memoir.* It would have been better if she had gone with one or the other. Instead, she straddles the two options, which results in a list-style of writing. Clearly she had some parts that would have benefited from a better narrative approach.

I love the cover, and some of the stories she has to tell are interesting. But those may be the best compliments I have for Rubies in the Orchard (which is really too bad, because I eagerly approached this reading).

*And then there are the textbook-style boxes highlighting her key points.

Thanks to Molly Peters at POM Wonderful for sending me this review copy.


bermudaonion said...

Sorry this didn't work for you.

Unknown said...

I am really sorry you didn't like it and appreciate your honesty. I did like it although I can see your points. It came off differently for me. I was just as much interested in what she did as what she had to provide in advice. I didn't like the text box quotes, either.

Jennifer @ The Literate Housewife Review

Chrisbookarama said...

I only found it so-so. It started out good but then turned into a list of accomplishments.

Zibilee said...

Sorry this one didn't impress you. I hate condescending authors, so I would probably not like this one as well.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

You were good to stick with it for your review, especially if the writing (bragging?) style didn't sit well with you.

I like the cover, too. A clever reinterpretation of a Magritte painting.