Book Review: Annie’s Song by Catherine Anderson

Posted November 14, 2016 by Renae // 1 Comment

Book Review: Annie’s Song by Catherine Anderson

Title: Annie's Song
Author: Catherine Anderson
Release Date: 1996
Publisher: Avon

Summary from Goodreads:

Annie Trimble lives in a solitary world that no one enters or understands. As delicate and beautiful as the tender blossoms of the Oregon spring, she is shunned by a town that misinterprets her affliction. But cruelty cannot destroy the love Annie holds in her heart.

Alex Montgomery is horrified to learn his wild younger brother forced himself on a helpless "idiot girl." Tormented by guilt, Alex agrees to marry her and raise the baby she carries as his own. But he never dreams he will grow to cherish his lovely, mute, and misjudged Annie; her childlike innocence, her womanly charms and the wondrous way she views her world. He becomes determined to break through the wall of silence surrounding her; to heal...and to be healed by Annie's sweet song of love.

I’m kind of weirded out by this book, but also I really enjoyed the story. It’s a conundrum for sure. What drew me to read this, first off, was the unique premise. Annie’s Song is about a young deaf woman who, due to negligence, has been mistakenly identified as a moron for her entire life. She is raped and, because of reasons, her rapist’s brother marries her, then discovers she’s deaf, not stupid. Then: romance.

It should be noted here that Catherine Anderson does a very good job handling some key issues. The rape is dealt with exactly as one might hope. There are no excuses, no tolerance for “she deserved it” or “she was asking for it” or any other nonsense things rapists say. The male protagonist, Alex, was compassionate toward his wife, if slightly pushy in the matter of conjugal rights (albeit lovingly) with his victimized wife. The deafness of the female protagonist was also dealt with respectfully, as far as I could tell. I am by no means an expert on the portrayal of disability of literature, but I wasn’t outright horrified by anything related to Annie or her deafness as it appeared in the text.

What’s most troubling about the book is how Anderson impresses upon the reader how “childlike” Annie is. Constantly. And while this is understandable, considering that Annie has been kept in a state of, more or less, perpetual childhood by her parents, it makes a romance between two consenting adults slightly strange. The male protagonist of the book seems drawn to Annie because of how tiny, ignorant, naive, and juvenile she is. And not to kinkshame, but…well, hmm.

Anyway. I did really like the story, though, up until the last quarter or so when Alex kept treating Annie like a child at a point in their relationship that was inexcusable—she’d proved she was very smart, had wants and desires of her own, and had just given birth to a child. That part, in particular, I thought sent the message that Annie, with her deafness, was incapable of living a normal adult life (though the book has attempted to send to opposite message for much of the text) and must be always babysat by her hearing husband. This is why, perhaps, the emphasis on her “childishness” bothered me as much as it did.

Annie’s Song is well-written and compassionate, not dissimilar to Flowers from the Storm, though there’s a huge difference between an impaired genius duke and an impaired terrified young woman. Considering the decade in which this was written, Anderson’s story is very much in keeping with other delicate damsel in distress type romances that were popular. If this book had been written in 2016, Annie would be far more take-charge with her life.

Renae has written book reviews and other miscellany for Respiring Thoughts since 2012. She loves dogs, Mexican food, mountains, Shakespeare, and procrastinating. She's currently working on an undergrad degree in English/Spanish lit in the Midwest. Connect with Renae on Twitter, Goodreads, and Tumblr.

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