Friday Reads: While I Was Gone

It isn’t often, as you can imagine, that everyone ends up in tears in our book group! Maybe it is because I had pneumonia in September or because my mother died ten years ago this month, but, gosh, this novel absolutely made me cry and wonder and imagine what family secrets do to a family. Our FPL Fiction Book Group meets twice each month, once on the 3rd Wednesday at 7:00 PM and then we meet again on Thursday morning at 10 AM, for those that prefer a morning session. There is always some difference in the reaction and different conversations, but THIS month the one constant was that everyone had LOTS to say about this novel! The basic premise is of a woman who has suffered a trauma in her early twenties, and how that comes back to haunt her after she has married a minister and now has three grown daughters, who have all moved out of the house. There are issues of faith, of family, of secrets, and certainly of loss. In fact there was so much to talk about in this novel, we didn’t have nearly enough time! I’ll be writing up a staff pick for this one very soon, and in the meantime, give yourself this as a late autumn gift to read. It does, indeed, begin right around Halloween!! As it says on the paperback cover: “Riveting … (it celebrates) what is impulsive in human nature.”

I marked my personal copy up from beginning to end! Here is one of my favorite passages:

“But here’s what I thought: that if I had a crush, it was on an earlier Eli, one who didn’t exist anymore, and the real Eli was just a vehicle for it. Or, perhaps even more complicated, that the crush—if you could call something so psychologically distorted by such a playful name—was on myself. The middle-aged Eli contained for me, of course, his youthful self, yes, But he contained me also. The self that had known him then, Myself-when-young. And that was what made him attractive to me. You read or hear every now and then of a romance staarting up between middle-aged or even elderly people who knew each other years earlier. People who throw over long-established, comfortable marriages or sensible lives for the chance to love again in a particular way—a way that connects them with who they used to be, with how it felt to be that person. And now, with Eli’s arrival in my life, I could understand the potency of that connection. The self-intoxication you pass off to yourself as intoxication with someone else.” (page 138-139)

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