That wasn't a problem for me at first. Passages of time exist in most novels. Temporary estrangement of the central couple is also common. Still, as I read on, I started getting just a teensy bit irked and impatient. With the heroes apart, the author started dishing up too much clever-and-amusing just for the sake of clever-and-amusing. Every character that was introduced was clever-and-amusing.
I also realized I was getting bored with the baseball fetish and the lawyer-related stuff, and that without any significant plot involving the book's original couple, the entire narrative was being carried on the back of clever-and-amusing. Only ... the narrative didn't seem to be going anywhere.
Is that it? I wondered. Is too-much-of-a-good-thing dampening this reading experience for me?
Out of curiosity, I went to Amazon to check out other readers' reactions. The book was almost universally praised, but there were a few sniffy souls who gave it a 1. A freakin' 1. (I wasn't thoroughly surprised; there are grumblers everywhere, and they're often self-righteous types who take themselves WAY too seriously because they've had their sense of humor surgically removed.) But I perused their comments anyway, hoping to get a fix on my own small undercurrent of disaffection.
Sure enough, these negative "reviews" were generally hightoned and dry and pretty much beyond my comprehension, as if these people and I had read two entirely different books. But one of them did say something that struck a chord: there's no differentiation among the characters' voices.
Yup, that was it. Or part of it. A sudden plethora of players, all of whom have the same voice: the protagonists, their male and female friends, their gay and straight friends, their lovers, students, coworkers, parents, even a young boy. They all, and I mean ALL, were dipping from the same witty, educated voice-pot. I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart if the author hadn't made it obvious whose words I was reading.
What's more, their droll observations and snappy repartee had been substituted for any kind of storyline. The book just stalled out in the middle. The cast of characters bumbled around in a Three Stooges kind of way, saying and doing zany things. As much as I love humor, it started getting on my nerves.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still engaged by this book and still eagerly anticipating the reunion of the protags. If there's an HEA buzzkill, though, I'll be rip-roaringly pissed off.
I almost always learn something from the novels and stories I read, either through positive or negative example. In addition to providing me with hours of entertainment, Almost Like Being in Love has been an eye-opener, another object lesson in the craft of fiction.