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NOVEMBER 24, 2009
Widow's Season ~ Laura Brodie
****reviewed by CarolK
Recently I read a review of The Widow’s Season by Laura Brodie. Some words like debut, grief, psychological fiction interested me. I looked Brodie up on the net. After reading the story behind the story I was hooked, so much so that I contacted Laura and she agreed to do a guest author blog post for Saxton Reads & Reviews which you'll find at
“Back in the 1990’s, when I was a graduate student at the University of Virginia, I got interested in a strange subject: husbands who fake their deaths in order to spy on their wives. I had encountered several of these men while researching a dissertation on widows in English literature, and the husbands weren’t real people—they were characters in plays, mostly from the 17th century.”
If that doesn't grab you, I'm not certain what will. Just the thought of husbands spying on their wives gave me the creeps but also intrigued me. Brodie's novel starts with the widow, Sarah McConnell spotting of her dead husband David at the local grocery store. Brodie's debut is a haunting tale, a beautifully told, lyrical journey in love and loss.
A while back, I read a library blog on the topic of books that really scare you. One respondent selected The Road, by Cormac McCarthy, as her pick. I have spent the last month immersed in teaching The Hunger Games, a well-written story about a future dystopic world. The Road appealed to me because it takes dystopia one step further and gives the reader a horrifying glimpse of a post-apocalyptic future. An unnamed cataclysmic event results in the end of civilization as we know it. Few humans are left alive in the ash-shrouded wasteland of our planet. A man and his young son decide that their best chance for survival is to head south. The story follows their journey, where they face near-starvation due to an almost total depletion of food stores as well as possible death at the hands of roving bands of cannibals, who have solved their own food shortage by hunting down fellow humans.
The writing is spare and lyrical. It is not a book you will enjoy reading, but rather one you will appreciate having read. The Road is a haunting story that remains with you long after you have turned the last page. The movie version is set to be released this month, but you know you always like the book better anyway, so read it!
Connecticut is fortunate to have many fine authors, Stewart O'Nan, being one of them. This past summer I read three books about missing children. One of these and the best by far was O'Nan's Songs for the Missing. There are only so many plots and it always amazes me how differently each author will handle similar stories. It sounds like a simple plot. Eighteen year old Kim Larsen disappears from her Lake Erie town. Read this opening and see if you are not intrigued to continue...
"Description of the Person, when Last Seen
July, 2005. It was the summer of the Chevette, of J.P. And letting her hair grow. The last summer, the best summer, the summer they'd dreamed of since eighth grade, the high and pride of being seniors lingering, an extension of their best year."
It should have been a summer of swimming at the lake, after work late night dates, a last glorious summer respite before college life begins. All this changes in an instant. Here one moment, gone the next. O'Nan's pen explores this tragic event so beautifully that at times you almost forget the underlying story of love, and loss. He gives us a detailed view of what it means to lose a loved one and how this missing affects each member of Kim's family; how each relates to the other, the ebb and tide of hope, and how each member tries to live without being disloyal to Kim. It's about the regrets, the sadness, the grief, what was and was not said or done.
This is not a fast read and probably would not appeal to thriller readers. It takes a bit of commitment on the reader's part but is definitely worth the effort. The best of O'Nan to date.
Ah, Becky Bloomwood... What can I say? This series keeps me coming back and yet when I'm in the middle of one of Becky's outrageous episodes, I can't help but wonder why. Becky is quite the creation and I know I could never spend more than ten minutes with her if she was a real person. So frustrating, so materialistic, and so clueless at times, yet I still feel bad for her, even when the predicament is of her own making, and I'm always cheering for her by the end because of the way she's fixed things. That I guess is why I keep reading (not to mention that I love her boyfriend, now husband, Luke. What a gem! But why he puts up with Becky is a mystery.) I don't know the names of designers like Becky does. I haven't got a clue about fashion like Becky does. I don't live and work with people who have more money than they know what to do with like Becky does. I guess that's the point of reading a book. It takes you into a place, a world, a scenario that is foreign to you and lets you experience it for yourself. And Becky's world is fun (not to mention fairly miraculous - I'd like my financial troubles to be settles as fantastically as Becky's are). So I'll keep reading Kinsella's engaging books because even when Becky's driving me mad, I'm enjoying myself.