Monday, June 22, 2009

Review: The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns by Elizabeth Leiknes

First, I have to say thank you to Harrison Demchick at Bancroft for sending me a free review copy of The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns. He sent me a lovely email, and yes, I was easily persuaded by such delightfully kind words. Now that I'm in a location that is surrounded by beaches, this was an absolutely perfect beach read: thin enough to slide into a beach bag, and a devour-in-one-sitting sort of story.

Synopsis: Lucy Burns has formed an unknown contract with who we're to assume is Satan. Lucy has been granted every wish of her heart, including saving someone's life, giving her unending beauty and sex appeal, etc. With these wishes, however, come great responsibility, and to this responsibility we find the central conflict of the novel. Lucy finds that she has had to give up too much. Can she live a life like this?

According to an interview with the author, Elizabeth Leiknes, she commented on this central conflict of the novel. When asked if she could associate herself with her character, she stated:
Lucy is forced, by circumstance, to answer the question, What would you do for love? Or, rather, what wouldn’t you do for love? This notion was the inspiration for the novel. I have always been a pacifist by nature, but when I had children, a strange chip ignited, and I became the mama bear, ready to fight if anyone messed with her family. It was really quite powerful, still is, and it forced me to entertain how far I would go to protect them.
To this central question about love, we find Lucy Burns.

Review: As mentioned in my opening, The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns is a great, one-sitting read. You can tuck this little book in your bag, fall into the story quite easily, and read it rather quickly because it is short and engaging. I thought the idea of a woman getting every wish granted, in exchange for a rather troubling life without love to be a no brainer--I would never give up free choice for wish fulfillment! However, there is a pretty heavy conflict that has put Lucy into this position in the first place. With that conflict in place, I'll admit that I wondered how I would feel, and what I would do.

My only complaint to the story was that I actually felt it was too short. Here is my reason. In setting up the story, I found myself lost as to what was really going on until about page 50. Remember, this is a pretty short novel. Some readers enjoy not having every detail of the back story spelled out for them, and in that case, this is not one of those novels that you feel you know everything that's going to happen; the development and outcome of the story remain surprising. I simply felt, early on, that I would have loved to have more explanation for what motivated Lucy, and what she did for her work.

Overall, I enjoyed the story, and think that it's a short, fun read. Once I really caught on to what had happened in the story, and what the conflict was behind it all, I couldn't put the book down. Oh, and yes, it did make for a great beach read!

For more information: The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns


  1. I just received my copy and cannot wait to read it. Not only have all the reviews been as positive as yours, but the author lives not too far away and the book is set in Reno where I live.

    Your review gives me the incentive to whittle down my review pile as soon as I can so I can read this.


  2. heidenkind & BiblioBrat -- It's definitely an interesting story. I still felt it needed a little more development, but it was a quick, easy read.