Unfinished Desires - Gail Godwin I read the Advanced Reader's Edition, which I won here on Good Reads. The book is due out on December 29. The letter that came with the book encourages me to "share candid thoughts with fellow readers" on Good Reads. Okey doke. My candid thoughts, coming right up. Gail Godwin is certainly one of the queens of character development. She takes you deep into the minds and motivations of the people in a way few authors even attempt. In Unfinished Desires, Godwin is especially skillful in her presentation of the unlikeable characters who drive the events. Some of them you start out liking but end up hating after you compare their public persona with their real selves. Having also read Father Melancholy's Daughter, I'd say this is Godwin's greatest strength as an author. She understands our psychological frailty as humans and the way we constantly replay past experiences in our minds, re-framing them to suit what we need to believe. On to the story itself. It involves events in many different time frames, all centering on a Catholic boarding school for girls in North Carolina. So there are the nunsies, the girls in their various stages of adolescent awkwardness, and the townspeople who don't trust Catholicism but respect the school. In a nutshell: Teenage girls digging up dirt about youthful indiscretions of the nuns, and nuns trying to suppress information to maintain their pristine image.There were certainly things I liked about the story. But overall impression? Scrambled eggs. Godwin was trying to tell too many people's stories, many of which were not essential to the primary plot. All the skipping around in time frames and points of view was distracting and made the whole thing feel rather muddy. I don't mind going back and forth in time, but there were too many minor threads to follow.I am not a Catholic, nor even the slightest bit religious. So no doubt a lot of the subtleties went right past me. If you're a Catholic or a boarding school attendee, you'll probably relate to more of the story and find yourself alternately chuckling and cringing in recognition. I'd say it's definitely a book for a niche market. If you've never read Gail Godwin's work, I recommend Father Melancholy's Daughter. A little slow to get through, but if you stick with it you'll ultimately appreciate its careful construction and find it quite satisfying.