I recently finished The Shadow Catcher for one of my classes. It's one of those books that I otherwise wouldn't have picked up, I'm guessing, but I found I actually enjoyed it.
The book interweaves two stories - one about Edward Curtis, a real-life photographer famous for having taken pictures of many Native Americans back in the late 1800s/early 1900s and his wife Clara, and the second about a fictional reimagined Marianne Wiggins who has written a book about Curtis.
I didn't think I'd like this book. Not that I thought I'd dislike it, but while I was reading it, I was kinda ho-hum about the whole thing. The writing is good, but I'm a person who waits to be affected and sucked in by a quiet beauty of a literary novel, and while The Shadow Catcher was fresh enough so that the reading was never a chore, it also didn't arrest me at first.
I did find the story of Clara and Edward intriguing though, and was frustrated as it was doled out in two chunks - I didn't want to go back to the present and just wanted to know what happened because I felt more invested in their story. The ending to their story however, gave me that affect that I wanted. It was a quiet sadness that I loved.
Because I was invested in the Clara/Edward story, I also thought I wouldn't really give a damn about the present tense stream, but the mystery that evolves was enough that I did want to read through it, just to know the answer. Therefore, the ending also surprised me by being more affecting than I'd expected, though to my taste, not completely satisfying. But just the slightest bit off, not enough for me to think it was bad. And so I actually liked this, to my surprise, because I hadn't thought I would, going in.
Also, I found that I became somewhat interested in the man Edward Curtis (who is a real person), but more so, I wondered how much of this was true, if perhaps Clara was the woman behind him who never got the credit she deserves. There's also a lot in here about sort of what "America" is made of -- specifically the West and being out West, and also just by nature of the material, about Native Americans, which I really enjoyed.
This novel is about what happens to the people who get left behind, really. It's quiet and creeps up upon you. No big drama, nor any crazy action. Not a lot happens in the book, but it definitely caught me in the end. It's a good read, though I wouldn't place it among my top favorites or anything.