So, I finally finished the book I posted at the beginning of the challenge- like Alison & The Golden Notebook, I may not have carved out the time if I hadn’t announced my intention to finish it to this group..! And I am so glad that I did commit to it, and get through it, because it was really a wonderful read. It took a little while to settle in with the multiple characters and story-lines- as they cross over and interact with each other- but once I got the hang of her writing style, I felt like I was a part of the family.
So, the theme of this book- from my perspective- is of family, belonging, and our very human need for connection, support and the feeling of being loved. Each character hungers for something, and as they rely on each other to fulfill their needs/desires, it becomes clear that really none of them have the capacity to provide what the others need. Add to that a community depressed by the loss of industry, resulting in low wages and a slow economy, and we wind up with a general sense of stagnation, bordering on futility. Although this seems like a sad situation, and the characters are definitely mired in difficulty, there is an underlying sense of hope in the way that they care for, forgive and negotiate through their own and each other’s lapses in judgment and behavior. Even as they are hurt, they forgive- sometimes quickly, other times eventually.
What I really loved was that Powell did not fall into the darkness of despair, nor did she sugar-coat the story with great emotional or moral righteousness. Instead, she allowed her characters to struggle through and find their own pathways to a semblance of inner peace. Sometimes we don’t get what we want, but this does not mean we cannot still love and reach out to those close to us, even if those very people have let us down.
As usual, my son has hit the nail on the head with this recommendation. I will think about these characters for a long time to come.