The Fourth Hand by John Irving was not a captivating read -- just barely entertaining enough to drag through to the end.
Everyone has their Irving favorites, usually starting with The World According to Garp; and there are mixed feelings about others, like A Prayer for Owen Meany. But The Fourth Hand is not enough of a novel to arouse much emotion one way or the other.
Without giving away the story, it is simply too hard to buy into the woman's obsession with the hand or the man's love for the woman. And, in a very un-Irving way, there were many loose ends -- several characters with prominent parts in the beginning of the book disappear without a trace. We are told that the protagonist changed, and that the "new" Patrick Wallingford is not like the "old" Wallingford, but why did he change? And why did his changing necessarily meant that characters would disappear?
It was like Irving packed the first half of the book with typical Irving situations and characters, then got bored with the whole thing, so spent the second half resolving it all in the fastest, most simplistic, straightforward way he could. Which is the only way to finish reading it as well.
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