Monday, November 10, 2008

A CELIBATE SEASON by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard

I’ve discovered a new genre – the epistolary novel. Okay, don’t be a wiseass, I didn’t discover it; and it isn't new. That genre has been in existence since the apostle Paul wrote epistles to the Romans and the Hebrews. So what I mean to say is this is the first of this genre that I have read, unless we count Griffin and Sabine. Oh yes, this is G&S but less fantastic, without the pretty postcards and the fabulous art, but with more depth in writing.

This story of husband and wife spending ten months apart is narrated with letters. Only letters. Carol Shields wrote the letters from the man and Blanche Howards took the wife’s point of view. With no plans for how the story will progress, the two authors took turns writing each other and actually sending the letters by post, and this was how the story evolved.

Reading this one letter at a time was just like eating watermelon seeds or M&Ms. I read one chunk at a time, one scrumptious morsel, one delicious bit after another delicious bit. “I’ll read this one last letter and then I’ll go to sleep, okay just one more, no really this is the last.” But I just couldn’t put it down, until I got to its bittersweet, more bitter than sweet, ending, and I realized I read through the night and the sun had just risen.

An intimate peek at a fictional marriage that mirrors the travails of real-life marriages. Wit and humor exquisitely blended with pain and distress. Skillful writing. I loved this book; I can’t understand why, and I’m secretly glad, this was not a bestseller.

1 comments:

Liane said...

I'm sort of drooling over your blog, gege. :)