Two quick notes tonight:
First, for those of you who are participating in the Matrimony online book club (which will take place on Thursday May 22) – Joshua Henkin wrote a really interesting guest post over at Books on the Brain about book clubs. I enjoyed hearing an author’s perspective on the modern book club and the role it plays today in book sales and word of mouth. I commend Josh on his tireless efforts to reach new readers and his willingness to open his mind to reader comments and reactions, even if it means driving all over the country to attend book clubs in person. I’m looking forward to the EDIWTB book club for Matrimony in three weeks.
Even if you are not participating in the book club, Josh’s post is a good read.
Second, thanks to EDIWTB reader Susan for recommending The Outcast by Sadie Jones. Susan says, "This is a great debut novel. The characters are well drawn, the story is compelling, and I can’t do it justice here." Amazon says:
Set in post WWII suburban London, this superb debut novel charts the downward spiral and tortured redemption of a young man shattered by loss. The war is over, and Lewis Aldridge is getting used to having his father, Gilbert, back in the house. Things hum along splendidly until Lewis’s mother drowns, casting the 10-year-old into deep isolation. Lewis is ignored by grief-stricken Gilbert, who remarries a year after the death, and Lewis’s sadness festers during his adolescence until he boils over and torches a church. After serving two years in prison, Lewis returns home seeking redemption and forgiveness, only to find himself ostracized. The town’s most prominent family, the Carmichaels, poses particular danger: terrifying, abusive patriarch Dicky (who is also Gilbert’s boss) wants to humiliate him; beautiful 21-year-old Tamsin possesses an insidious coquettishness; and patient, innocent Kit—not quite 16 years old—confounds him with her youthful affection. Mutual distrust between Lewis and the locals grows, but Kit may be able to save Lewis. Jones’s prose is fluid, and Lewis’s suffering comes across as achingly real.
\Whoa. It’s not too often that I just get swept away. I wish it was. I wish every book delivered on its promise. This one was bursting with potential from the prologue – and even knowing what was coming, I still spilled tears, I still tasted bitterness, I still felt displeasure. I can’t believe this is her first novel! Please, sign me up for the second. Miss Jones, I hope you are busy writing! I think the beauty of this novel is that yes, something rather extraordinary happens to Lewis, but that’s not the story. The story is in the rather mundane ways he is affected or not affected by it. It downplays the drama. That’s such a sophisticated way to write it just blew me away. It’s subtle. And brilliant. It leaves you singing for redemption.
Thank you Susan for bringing this book to my attention!