Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bonnie Grove's "Talking to the Dead"

Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove is one of the best novels I've read -- not only this year but in recent memory. I've posted a review at Amazon, in which I praise the book, and I'm still thinking through what I finished reading this morning.

Wow. Grove is one talented writer.

It's a story about grief -- the unexpected loss of a young husband -- but it's also a story of how the mind and emotions deal with grief, which can include blocking out reality. In the case of Kate Davis, the young heroine, the loss of her husband Kevin is stunning and ravaging -- but ultimately not for the reasons she and the reader think. It becomes even more complicated when she begins to hear his voice talking to her, and he tells her she's forgotten too much. And he's right.

Slowly, as Kate descends into a kind of madness, she begins to grasp the monumental betrayal by her husband, his friends and business associates, and even her own family. She comes to understand that this betrayal includes her own memory, a memory gutted by grief.

As the healing comes with love and faith, Kate's pain gets worse. And the moment is approaching when she will have to surrender what has become a grief-driven anger.

For a long time, I didn't know how big a role anger could play in someone's grief. And then I saw a loved one engulfed by it, and how the anger could manifest itself in different ways. The grief of loss, accompanied by anger, profoundly changed the person, the relationships and the family.

That's the story Bonnie Groves masters in Talking to the Dead.

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