This powerful new novel from the author of "Some Days There's Pie" is written with an assured Southern inflection and lovingly three-dimensional ...Show synopsisThis powerful new novel from the author of "Some Days There's Pie" is written with an assured Southern inflection and lovingly three-dimensional characters.Hide synopsis
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Overall, I enjoyed this book despite its disjointed feel, reminding one of a dissertation that has been fleshed out. For a first-time novel, it is a good read full of fresh insights about the disconnects between generations. The author's context comes bubbling though in an unselfconscious way, resulting in a tale that rings true. The following is an excerpt from my literary analysis of the book (for a course on an interdisciplinary study of work). Don't read it if you haven't already gotten that far:
The final five chapters wind down the threads of failure and disappointment that follow its major characters through a tragedy that seems to have failed in delivering its payload. There is no epic climax despite the expectation which the story built up with intimations of sorrow's imminence. I cannot fault Landis for delivering a tale that on a human scale falls short of Aeschylus or Sophocles, for her real focus is not individual human loss, but upon corporate human loss by way of the continual erosion of the natural world, the passing of a bygone era, and the extinction of a way of life. With only one physical death at the end (that one not being the foreshadowed demise which the author seemed to be hinting at), I found myself adjusting my sights to a different theme, overarching this novel, than that of lives lost?instead, it seemed to be more along the lines of lowered expectations, both for the book's readers and its pitiable characters. However, when one expects a story-book ending to family dramas, it is hard to adjust to the real tale being told by Catherine Landis, one that is less showy yet infinitely more complex. This thought then serves to temper the expectation into something much stronger, a story of reclamation and rebirth.
It is not a complete tragedy because there is a redemptive power and a new beginning, as with the tale of the Odyssey. Inasmuch as the end of Ulysses? long sojourn did not mean the end of his life but a new chapter with his family beside him, so this tale finally finds the real Leda, essentially whole, stronger, and ready to move on with her life. Even though it seemed all along that either Daniel or Arliss would become the great tragic figures, they serve to frame her struggles, her awakening, and her eventual freedom from bondage to Daniel.
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