"A little over a year later, in a grubby cafe not far from the Gare du Nord, with a plate of highly suspect celeriac before her and a very heavy backpack at her feet and a heart - not to put too fine a point on it - newly rent to howling shreds, Portia realized that she was pregnant." - Admission, by Jean Hanff Korelitz
I struggled through this novel, trying to get on board with Portia. I wondered if my issue was with Portia or Korelitz's writing style.
The novel uses the third person. The narrative is tightly aligned with only Portia, and effectively
becomes first person. During occurrences of backstory, I assumed we were in Portia's mind. Remembering past events and emotions through her filter, rather than getting them directly from Korelitz.
But something hindered my interest. Portia came across as cold, too clever. A bit pretentious, self-absorbed.
Maybe we're not meant to like Portia. We spend a lot of time learning that in her adult life, Portia has never let anyone get too close to her. She's buried a significant life decision deep within her past, doing everything to avoid further examining or acknowledging that choice. Perhaps Korelitz specifically created Porita with the intent of keeping the reader at arm's length - the same way Portia has maintained a distance from her own self and other characters in the novel. This distance keeps Portia from transcending beyond a character to a seemingly"real" person.
Maybe this is Portia's voice, maybe it belongs only to Jean Hanff Korelitz. Regardless of the source, I was never fully swept up by this novel. Great care is taken to construct the novel and its plot, but I had a hard time finding a deeper connection within the architecture.