Abbe is a minister's wife in Hawaii, living with her husband and three year old daughter. She is somewhat exasperated by her life, having little patience for the way things go day to day. Then one fateful day, her daughter is killed and it sends her reeling. Plunged into the depths of grief and depression, Abbe must begin to make choices about what she wants her life to look like.
I have to say that this book was hard for me to read, because I disliked Abbe intensely. She was extraordinarily selfish, and I don't think it was all owing to the death of her daughter. She was very self-centered even before that. Her husband, Greg, actually came off very well and yet she treated him like absolute crap. I really don't think anyone could ask for much more love or support than Greg gave her.
Another issue was that this book was pitched to me as exploration of faith and even though Greg is a minister, and the book is divided up by the liturgical year, Abbe had no actual faith herself. It seems she didn't have faith before the death of Cleo, her daughter, but it was definitely gone after that. Her attitude towards faith and people of faith was not very generous. This would be an instance where expectation damaged the reading experience, because I probably wouldn't have minded had I not been expecting something else.
Having said all of that, while this was not a pleasurable read, it was certainly thought provoking in some ways. One of the underlying themes of the book deals with narrative and how we choose the stories we tell ourselves and also how we choose the stories we tell out of our lives. Abbe's story of grief is combined with the story of her mother and how she viewed it one way, how that impacted her life, and later she learned more information that helped her choose to shape her life in a different way.
The extent in which I disliked Abbe made me think about how sometimes I am grateful we don't fully know the inner lives of others. Abbe does come around and this book ends with hope and really rather beautifully. It's just such a messy arduous journey to get there. A lot like life, yes.
The character of Greg is worth a second of examination since I always enjoy seeing how the clergy is depicted in books. As I said before, I thought he was a great guy. I think there must have been some baggage that isn't fully brought into the story, but for the most part, he seemed like a nice guy--a good husband and father. I think his downfall is that he spent a lot of time at the church. I liked him a lot, and I think his depiction was fair. His sermon on faith written after Cleo's death is one of the lovelist things in the book.
Overall, this is a dark novel in many ways, full of grief and depression, the writing is good, though, and the themes are thought provoking enough that it's worth a read if this is your kind of thing. But if you really want a good book about a pastor's wife, I recommend This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson.
Things You Might Want to Know: profanity
Source of Book: Received for a blog tour from the publisher
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Review: Come Sunday by Isla Morley
Book Reviews|Literary Fiction|