Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Looking Glass

Richard Paul Evans is a best selling author. His book, The Christmas Box, was a best seller. Apparently it was the first book he wrote. Nothing like blasting onto the scene! Since writing that book I understand that he has made writing his career. I think I'll put the Christmas Book next on my list of book to read.

The Looking Glass was a pretty good book. We read it for book club though - and I'm not so sure it provided enough for a great discussion. Mostly it's a feel good book. I read this book while I was in the hospital - which might have been why I enjoyed it. I didn't need any deep thoughts or philosophical reads....but a simple story was about all I could handle. It was the right book for the right time.

The Publisher Weekly Review summarizes this book well: Heartfelt but hackneyed, this ponderous new novel by the author of The Christmas Box carries heavy doses of spirituality. After "Presbyterian minister turned prospector and gambler" Hunter Bell is run out of Goldstrike camp (aka "Sodom West") in 1857 by a vigilante group that suspects him of cheating at cards, he strikes it rich in the Oquirrh mountain range in western Utah. Despite his material fortune, Hunter remains unhappy, haunted by the death of his wife back in Pennsylvania. (When his prayers for her recovery went unanswered, Hunter headed west "in search of gold instead of God.") "How quickly it is forgotten that Midas's gift was a curse, not a blessing," he reflects in one of the journal entries that precede each chapter. The chance for a new life comes when he discovers Quaye Mac Gandley unconscious in the snow, surrounded by wolves. Quaye has had a terrible time. At 14, she was sold by her impoverished father in Ireland to the American adventurer Jak, whose activities include murder, attempted rape, extortion, abduction, pimping and wife beating. We know Quaye and Hunter are right for each other since they share a love of literature, especially the sonnets of Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The two tormented souls slowly recognize their mutual need via several incidents laden with homilies. Hunter eventually reaches a new, gospel-inspired level of understanding. "The measure of a person's heart, the barometer of good or evil, was nothing more than the extent of their willingness to choose life over death... the path of God was, simply, the path of life, abundant and eternal." In spite of wooden characters, pervasive platitudes and a predictable plot, this "story of redemption" will undoubtedly find its audience.

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