About the Book: Jane Hoffman and Gwen Baker, both teachers and in their forties, have a friendship that helps them endure. Years after Gwen is abandoned and left to raise two sons alone, she finds herself in love with a married man. After Jane is humiliated by her husband's infidelity and Gwen must face her own uncertain path, the two women turn to each other.
Now, as each is tested by personal crisis, Jane and Gwen face new challenges--as mothers, as daughters, as lovers. And in the process, they will learn unexpected truths about their friendship--and themselves.
My Review: This is one of those books that quietly explores the present lives of its characters through their pasts. Each character is introduced at a crisis point and as they learn to cope with the current situations in their lives, they reflect on their pasts. Therefore, we get deep characterization.
The language used in the book is beautiful and it's hard not empathize and feel for the characters as you read about their lives. Even though I couldn't fully understand them, I knew that they were in pain. It was nice and gratifying to read about how Jane and Gwen were there for each other through these dark seasons in their lives.
And ultimately, that's what Willing Spirits (beautiful title no?) is about. It's a celebration of the depth and beauty of female friendship. I thought that this passage really illustrated that well:
For it is from other women that women are nurtured. It is from other women that they hear what they hope to hear from men. I understand. I know how you feel. I'm sorry for your pain. I care about what you think: Words that need no prompting. In that circle, women tell each other the things that men and women tell each other first with their hands and lips and tongues before they tell each other with words. Women comfort each other with touch that is meant to heal, rather than to excite. The mysteries of love are less complex between women.
It goes on and is really so beautiful, much like the other writing in this book. If you enjoy character driven novels I really think you will enjoy Willing Spirits!
Things You Might Want to Know: There is some sex in this book or frank sexual talk.