Friday, March 13, 2009

Review: Willing Spirits by Phyllis Schieber

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!

Rating: 4/5
Things You Might Want to Know: There is some sex in this book or frank sexual talk.


Phyllis Schieber said...

Good morning, Amy, and thank you for your review of WILLING SPIRITS. I am especially fond of the passage you picked to illustrate the novel's language.I also share your description of the novel as "character driven" novel rather than plot driven, like THE SINNER'S GUIDE TO CONFESSION, my last novel.
I enjoyed your review and though I sense that you are more inclined to enjoy plot driven works (read THE SINNER'S GUIDE TO CONFESSION!), I am so glad that you enjoyed WILLING SPIRITS and wanted to host me.

bermudaonion said...

That passage is fantastic and so true!

Darlene said...

I love the passage you picked. I'll be reading this book for Phyllis' tour soon and I'm getting excited to start it.

Phyllis Schieber said...

bermudaonion: So nice to see you! I'm so glad you enjoyed this excerpt. It's a favorite of mine.

Dar: Hi Dar! I can't wait to hear what you think!

samantha.1020 said...

This sounds like a really great book. I'll have to add it to my TBR list. Great review!

S. Krishna said...

I really enjoyed this book and LOVE Phyllis Schieber :-) Nice review!

Phyllis Schieber said...

S. Krishna: Thanks for the shout-out and for the love! I'm sending it right back!

Samantha: I hope you place WILLING SPIRITS at the top of your TBR list! Let me know what you think!

Anna said...

This is a great character-driven novel. I enjoyed it, too.

Diary of an Eccentric

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