Tag Archive | Book

Book #7 – Eden Close

by Anita Shreve book 7

I have always been a reader.  I love books and there is never a point in my life where I am not beginning, in the middle or oh so close to finishing a book.  What I have come to realize these past few weeks is that I have read a lot of books, but most of them lacked depth.  They were the formulaic bad guy/good guy, nothing-of-meaning books.  Since that was my modus operandi in the past, New Year’s Resolution Sue is going for something different.  I am reading quality.  Dare I say even close to “literature” rather than bubble gum books?

“Eden Close” is another one of those books which caused me to pause while reading and realize there was more behind the words.  The kind of book which makes you reflect on your own past, your own bonds with people, roads less traveled.  I am loving spending time between the covers of books which make me think.

This one is set in a small town in upstate New York, but you can make it even smaller and say it takes place in two lonely farmhouses and the interaction of two families and circumstances.  Andrew, Andy as a boy, and neighbor Eden were childhood friends who knew there was much more between them than they showed.  The murder of Eden’s father, and her attack and rape, ended the childhood friendship and this story begins with Andrew’s arrival home for his mom’s funeral.  After 17 years, what remains to be resolved?

Shreve is an excellent author and the writing in this book is deep.  As a mom with the last kid leaving home in August, and a husband 11 years older, this particular passage as Andrew enters his childhood bedroom caused me a tear or two:

“On the desk now is her sewing machine, and instead of the old pens and half-used notebooks he used to keep in the right-hand drawer, he found there last night an array of bobbins, fabric scraps and needles.  There were other rooms she could have chosen to sew in – the sun room downstairs, where the light was good, or the guest bedroom.  Perhaps, though, she wanted an excuse to be in this room, to savor some vestige of her son’s presence…..He tries to imagine what it must have been like for her to have a family and have it fall away; his own leaving and never really coming back except as a visitor; his father abandoning her five years ago with a heart attack.”

Sigh.  Unlike my former genre of medical and legal thrillers, it is easy to imagine me as Andrew’s mother.  The losses she felt, the loneliness of a once vibrant farmhouse filled with everyone for whom she cared.  All gone as she spent her final years alone.  And now Andrew has returned, and her death allows him the opportunity to examine his own current existence and make choices to continue on without meaning, or reach out to the one love he knew as a teenager.

I loved “Eden Close” and plan to find more Anita Shreve books in which to spend some time.

5/5 Stars

Book #1 – The Night Swimmer

by Matt Bondurant

I recently watched the movie Lawless andThe Night Swimmer was intrigued by the story, and the fact it was written by the grandson of one of the bootlegging main characters.  I decided to check out his work but didn’t want to read The Wettest County in the World which inspired Lawless.  Luckily his third novel was recently published and seemed interesting.

This is my first review, and I imagine the only rule to be no spoilers.  So, what prophetic words can I share without giving away the specific things which caused my opinion?  Not much.  I started this book and was immediately consumed by the idea (American couple winning an Irish pub), the main character and her voice (she has a genetic “abnormality” which allows her to tolerate cold and make open water swims) and the concept of starting anew in a place so different from the known.

Bondurant is a master of prose.  Despite not loving poetry, I found myself really pausing to soak up the descriptive language.  He creates characters who are compelling, and although not a swimmer or traveler to foreign destinations, I was mesmerized by both.  Every time main character Elly enters the water the reader can’t help but feel as though they are swimming beside her.

Unfortunately, about halfway through the book, I realized Bondurant was losing me.  What had begun as an exciting opportunity for a loving married couple, quickly turned into two people pushing each other away.  The times they were together in a scene was uncomfortable.  How quickly what we imagine to be what we want the most ends up destroying what we already enjoyed.

Despite reading every word in the book, and having a college degree, the last few chapters were hard to understand.  When the book ended I was lost.  Not wanting to appear ignorant in this first review, I perused the world wide web seeking enlightenment about the ending.  Turns out Sparknotes.com hasn’t covered this book yet.  I felt vindicated in my confusion when I discovered site after site with people also seeking an explanation of the ending.

Numerous reviews on Amazon.com were pretty divided into two camps.  Those of us who had no clue what happened and felt the author just wanted to end the book; and the second camp who criticized those of us who were confused and suggested we need to be spoon fed the facts as in a Sherlock Holmes novel.  Hmmmm.  Perhaps one day I will take this one of the shelf and re-read to see if I “get” it the second time.  Perhaps not.