Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A year of magical thinking

Thank you for choosing this, Helen. I wanted to read it when it came out, but chickened out at the last moment because I misunderstood something about it. I'm very glad to have been coaxed back to it! Enjoyed it isn't quite the word, but I found it gripping, moving and enlightening. She made such sense of such a horrible situation and skewered it so precisely. You know her daughter died after it was finished but before it was published? Not untypically, she responded that she wouldn't change the book: "It is finished".

It wasn't so much the American things as such which I noticed as alien, but I was conscious of not really "getting" the couple's sheer stature over there. Which makes the open, self-critical account even more startling.

I loved the spare, merciless prose style, and the forensic dissection of grief. It made an alien situation - both her lifestyle and the situation she was plunged into - feel very real. She wasn't exaggerating or wallowing, so I felt I could take her insights on trust. Her very fear of self-pity made me more sympathetic. Like Helen, I found the same couldn't be said of the Daily Mail's (!) comment on the front. That seemed to me to promise the wrong thing, while failing to advertise the book's many selling points. Hey ho, Emily in shock disagreement with Daily Mail (again). Phew.