Sunday, April 05, 2009

More Good Reading

I have struck gold! Last month I mined out and read eight or ten of the best pieces of fiction that I have read in years. The two books I have read this week are right in the same vein.

I just finished Elizabeth Berg's Never Change and Leif Enger's Peace Like a River.

Never Change was on the NY Times Bestseller list in 2001; that's how it ended up in my reading pile last time I visited the bookstore. In this novel, Ms Berg drew some enduringly memorable characters. Again (as I noted about my recent reading in my last post) the theme revolved around love. The range of related emotions experienced by the reader as he/she identified with the well-drawn characters was immense. Sadness, Joy, Fear, Hope, Despair -- all of these are inextricably incorporated into the greater emotion of love; and the the reader is drawn into all of these as he/she experiences "second-chance" love with the main character, Myra.

This book is a highly emotional journey depicting how memory, background, societal expectations and learned responses impact relationships throughout a lifetime. The human need for vital connections with those around us has seldom been more clearly showcased as in this novel.

Peace Like a River was also a national bestseller in 2001. It was fabulous escape - one from which I reluctantly returned to daily life. Andrew Roe, of the San Francisco Chronicle, said that "Peace Like a River serves as a reminder of why we read fiction to begin with." Indeed. Not only did the story present a wonderful world in which to live for a time, it also told that story in a vivid language with a beauty of its own. To a lover of language, the style of the writing was poetry. The frequent literary references (to the Old Testament, to the Gospels, to the Old West, to earlier literature) enriched the story.

In addition to being a story of love, this novel is a story of redemption and faith. It is a story of miracles, family, and the miracle of family. This book deserves the over-used adjectives "poignant" and "significant."

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Good evening Joan...How great to read Daddy"s Roses again and see your excellent book reports! I want to get several of those books soon and read some good fiction. Thanks!