Bookish Day

Monday, January 23, 2023

Yesterday’s late afternoon turned beautiful on this town’s eastside where I live. The overcast, cloudy sky gave way to sunshine, which popped. Suddenly our horizon’s snow-topped Cascade Mountains became highly visible. I was in the process of filling watering troughs and the light had me grinning. How lovely, to rediscover a bright world.

Earlier, I stayed inside and read as much as possible. My book is, Listening Still, by Anne Griffin, an Irish novelist. I was prepared to scan, and quickly, the story because its heroine “can hear the dead”. This theme isn’t my cup of tea, but it’s for a book club.

Barely into chapter one, I found myself hooked completely, slowed, and carefully followed the story. I’m about two-thirds through. Griffin is a skillful storyteller and writer. The reader shares her characters’ emotions, well expressed without falling overboard.

The lead character is Jeanie, who’s in her early thirties. Her parents surprise her by suddenly explaining their decision to retire soon from the family business. They intend to leave the small community and the family’s established mortuary business. Jeanie will run the business. She’s the only person besides her father who can hear the dead. Both have the unique gene that enables a “listening skill”.

Jeanie is upset by her parents’ decision and struggles with whether to continue the mortuary business. Her marriage of several years is good but not perfect. She has solid relationships with her family, long-time friends, and with many in the larger community.

The proposed change while forcing her to consider pros and cons, simultaneously has her mind escaping to memories and regrets. We begin learning that Jeanie has a back story. Especially, that years ago she was involved a long passionate love affair with “a man she didn’t marry”. That past and its wild emotions linger.

Griffin writes with insight and awareness without being heavy-handed. She communicates humor, tension, love, and anger. A reader easily identifies with Jeanie and experiences as she does. Griffin’s skillful writing has me anticipating an appropriate resolution.

I give this story a high “like”. Anne Griffin has two other published books and I will explore.

Dear Friends: Unless forced to read this story, I’d have dissed it to avoid its “hearing” theme. Diana

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