Reviewed by Diane Keyes
Much like a photo album catches moments in time, so Satisfaction by Gillian Greenwood captures the essential spirit that moves each member of her ensemble at specific moments of their lives, over a period of years.
In Satisfaction, Greenwood favors character development rather than plot. The story revolves around three sisters and their mother, the men in their lives and the choices they make. The plot is simply a vehicle to explore the characters’ feelings and responses.
The author’s intimate insights into the ways people face their struggles, victories, and the grind of daily existence, fascinate me. These lines from the text sum up her approach beautifully. “He felt sudden compassion for the many foolish actions his friends had put before him over the years. He could see their follies now for what they were, a probing for signs of life, proofs against death or a moribund existence.”
I hope those lines make as much sense out of context as they do within the confines of the book. In essence, sometimes we do things or consider doing things to mix things up a bit—just to see what would or could happen.
All of us have seen marriages thrive or dissolve, careers climb or crash, games won or lost—all on account of someone’s impulsive behavior—individuals acting out the “what ifs” of their lives. To understand this behavior as a way to feel more alive makes it easier to feel compassion for the human condition and the sometimes irrational choices we all occasionally make.
Though a skillfully written and entertaining book, the value of Satisfaction rests more in having read the book than reading it. I feel like a better, more compassionate person for having spent a few hours reading this book. And it’s likely the effects of Satisfaction will last long after I’ve forgotten most other books.
Armchair Interviews says: Great expectations and unfulfilled promise illuminate Gillian Greenwood’s fine first novel, Satisfaction.