by Susan Minot
Reviewed by Suzanne Bartash, Booklovers
2004) Susan Minot writes a compelling story. Ann Lord is a
woman at the end of her life. She is bedridden with cancer
and through her pain and drug induced sleep we are allowed
into her mind and her memories. Ann has had a full life with
three husbands and five children. Throughout it all she feels
that a piece of her is missing. Her heart was given to Harris
Arden,a man she met at a friend's wedding many years before.
For Ann, he was her soul mate. She was devastated and broken
hearted when the truth of his situation was revealed to her.
She carries on with her life but is never the same. She is
emotionally crippled for life. This is obvious in her other
memories when she really doesn't come across as a truly loving
mother or wife.
The stream of consciousness manner in which Ann's story is
told is confusing at times but well worth the effort. The
writing is beautiful and evokes much emotion in the reader.
Some of us found it almost heart wrenching to even read and
truly felt for this character. She writes elegantly in a unique
and enjoyable style that draws one into the story. So many
things in the novel are left to one's imagination, due to
the unreliable narrator who is on pain medication. The narrator's
retrospective of her own life is haunting and dazzling. It
is definitely a powerful book and makes one cling to and examine
life. Many people (including some members of our group) live
with the memory of the "one that got away" but for
Ann, it was all consuming. In the end, we can only hope that
she has found the peace that has evaded her all of her life.
Most members enjoyed the book very much although some found
it difficult to read since the main character was dying of
cancer. We also found it hard to accept her relationship with
her children. The members of our book group are very family
oriented and her lack of involvement with her children was
disturbing. There was much discussion about the character
of her great love, Harris Arden. Was he the wonderful man
she thought he was or was he a cad?
Evening was a great book for a book group discussion.
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