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Posts Tagged ‘Psychological fiction’

LITTLE ISLAND: A novel ~Katharine Britton

Monday, May 26th, 2014

“How many of us live lives driven by rules and assumptions that we never test?  I stood a moment, watching the tide slip out through the channel, feeling a new sense of freedom and an understanding that we are only as stuck as we allow ourselves to be.”   Joy Little


The Little family is gathering at the family’s Inn for a memorial service for their maternal grandmother.  LITTLE ISLAND is a story about that Inn, the family which has been there for generations, and of the people who are connected to this family.  The family Inn is connected to the mainland of Maine by a causeway and the family has to be fully aware of the tides and the rules of nature. The Little family has experienced loss, a major tragedy and they have a wealth of secrets which keep them holding on to old assumptions and communications.

Joy is the narrator of LITTLE ISLAND and we see the family through her eyes and thinking.  She is the second born child, but holds the role as the oldest because baby Abigail died.  Joy’s partner is not at the weekend event because he is driving their only child to college.  She has an emptiness and is attempting to fill in the gap and tackle her sense of loss.  This weekend is also the 20th anniversary of a drunken driving accident which killed Joy’s best friend.  The family rarely talks about this event, though it is part of every moment of their lives.

Tamar and Roger are the twins and in LITTLE ISLAND twins are a big part of the story.  Roger is not married and has no children, but he is hoping his father will consider him “grown up” enough to take over the Inn for the family legacy.  Tamar is a lawyer who brings her twin daughters to the weekend without her husband so she can prove that she is a good mother. The reader can sense that divorce will be a part of her future.  She is hoping that Joy will take charge of the twins and provide childcare so that she can just be herself and not be responsible.  Tamar adores Roger and wants all his time; to be as close as they were as children.

Gar Little is the owner of the Inn and part of that family tree and he is busy keeping the family involved in traditions at the Inn and all the property issues that need repair and he wants his family to carry on the Inn’s legacy – his work is very physical and demanding.  Grace, the wife and mother, does a great deal of cooking and childcare while trying to figure out her mother’s wishes for a memorial service from a rather cryptic, short list she found.  Grace takes us on several memorable hikes, sharing the beauty of the island and her love of her home.

The writing is very beautiful and the capture of emotions and conversations are wonderful. I loved the moments of humor that the family shared.  The family peeled back the layers in short, little bursts and they did not yell or hit with their angers. Lots of good thinking and actions were part of the story. When there proved to be enough little reveals, they just stopped hiding and let go of the secret; it took a big event to pull them back together. LITTLE ISLAND provided the catalyst for discovery and resolution.  Each character was ready to let go and move forward.

tlc logo  TLC Online book tours sent me this book for review.  The writing was so thoughtful, hopeful, and I just held onto the story – I am sure I will want to read this book again – LITTLE ISLAND.

There is a reader’s guide for book groups included with this story.

The author lives in Vermont and teaches at the Institute of Lifelong Education at Dartmouth College.
Katharine Britton Online
Katherine Britton on Facebook

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THE SENSE OF AN ENDING: A Novel ~Julian Barnes

Thursday, February 20th, 2014


THE SENSE OF AN ENDING is actually a long short story told in two chapters.  It is a piece of exquisite writing which will just amaze you, dazzle your mind, and require you think.  The writing is so tight and vivid the very words can control one’s thinking about the story.  It actually takes a bit of effort to see the subject of the story for what it is, and I found that workout to reveal a rather unsavory tale.

The stage of the short story is often to approach a character with problem or trauma one after each other, creating in the story a tension, which quite often leaves the reader pondering or wondering about the bigger outcome. This story has little movement because the narrator is so devoid of emotion and is just step-by-step walking through his life from his boy’s school through his retirement.  Tony just does not seem to understand and he cannot recognize his life lesson. From the first page he is attempting to figure out the meaning, the part he plays in the unfolding of the narrative.

The Mothers in the story are fascinating in that each and everyone attempts to turn on Tony’s emotions and assist him into actually living a life with meaning.  Not even his daughter holds out hope that he will engage in life and just tells him how he can relate to his grandson.  He does note that his ex-wife has a bigger role in his daughter’s life and she is willing to let him talk through his dilemma, but even she lets him know she is done and “he just does not get it”.

The section of the story about the Severn Bore, is a fascinating reveal to the reader that THE SENSE OF AN ENDING is just that as Tony experiences something deeply and is mystified by one of natures occurrences.

“,,,I stayed on the bank my myself.  I don’t think I can properly convey the effect that moment had on me.  It wasn’t like a tornado or an earthquake – nature being violent and destructive, putting us in our place.  It was more unsettling because it looked and felt quietly wrong, as if some small lever of the universe had been pressed, and here, just for these minutes, nature was reversed, and time with it.  And to see this phenomenon after dark made it the more mysterious, the more otherworldly.”

The reader grasps that eventually when Tony gets his smack in the face it is going to be a Tsunami in order for him to understand.  It will be a violent, dark, otherworldly aspect of nature.

I had to read THE SENSE OF AN ENDING two times and enjoy the form and the writing.  The destruction of a school chum who did not have a Mother was compelling and such a devastating emotional tug, it made it hard to double dose.

Julian Barnes online

Mr. Barnes won the Man Booker Award for THE SENSE OF AN ENDING.  He has a long list of successful books and articles.

This book is from my own personal library and I purchased it and analyzed it per the request of my friend DEB who said her book group, folks who are very smart just went on and on about the writing in the story but nothing about the understanding of what the story was trying to tell us – “Just what does it mean and what is it about?”  So thank you DEB for presenting me with this opportunity to share my thoughts about what I read.

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

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