Saturday, September 18, 2010

2010 Book 61: The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Book #:246

Book Title:The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Author:Thornton Wilder

Publisher:Perennial Classics

Pub. Date:1998 (original - 1927)


Started:September 15, 2010

Finished:September 18, 2010

Time to Read:3 Days

Back Cover / Inside Flap:"On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence Thornton Wilder beings The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world.

By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper then embarks on a quest to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His search leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.

Review:The first time I read this timeless Wilder work, I was in middle school. I was in a phase where I was enthralled by teenage "sob" novels - where the main character had some horrific disease and only a short time to live. The last line of The Bridge of San Luis Rey was quoted in one of the books - "There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." Other than Bible versus, this was the first line I'd ever memorized from literature, and once read, I had to find the book where it originated. I love this novella then...and still love it now.

The cover literature of the novel makes a big deal out of the monk who witnesses the collapse of the bridge, but the book itself makes him a rather minor character. Rather, you learn about the foibles and virtues of the three main individuals who died and their two companions about whom less is known. In some of the most vividly realistically writing known to literature, Wilder creates personalities that are at once universal and unique. Although a short work - really, more of a novella than a novel - it is the perfect length to portray the message I believe Wilder is seeking to share - that all human life has value, and all of life cannot be explained as anything more than the work of God. Really, this is a book you can read in a fairly short sitting, but I always draw it out to multiple days because it's too delicious not to savor for a longer time than mere hours. If you've never read this book, you need to go get it now!

If you have read or are planning to read this book, please make sure to stop back by and leave me a comment to let me know your own thoughts!

From my library to yours,


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2010 Book 60: At Home in Mitford

Book #:245

Book Title:At Home in Mitford

Author:Jan Karon


Pub. Date:1994


Started:September 8, 2010

Finished:September 14, 2010

Time to Read:6 Days

Back Cover / Inside Flap:Enter the world of Jan Karon's writing and you'll soon see why everyone yearns to be At Home in Mitford -- everyone except Father Tim, the local rector, who suddenly is not entirely sure. A dog the size of a Buick has followed him home and intends to stay there. A hostile boy is left in his care. But on the upside, an attractive new neighbor is stirring feelings he hasn't felt in years.

Add to these events an epic dinner party, a potentially valuable painting, a surprising tale of unrequited love, a mysterious break-in -- and you'll find yourself At Home in Mitford never wanting to leave.

Review:Before the summer of 2010, I'd never heard of either this book or it's author. But then Patti Ann Colt released her Summer Reading Program, and I promptly scoped it out to see what I could add to my To Be Read pile. Boy, am I glad to have chosen this novel! The characters are so vivid that they jump off the pages, read to invite you home with them, to wondrously friendly Mitford. You can't help but love the rector, Father Tim, as he muddles his way through life, always trusting in God, but wondering if he, himself, is using good judgment in all he does. As the "chief cook and bottle washer" in the town - everyone turns to him to solve their every issue, whether members of his church or not - he is always heading in 5 directions at one time. But when he, himself, needs help and needs to contemplate what the future holds, where else but Mitford could other lovable characters be found to help him along and show him how very much they need him. I understand that this book is part of a series; I can't wait to go read more - join me, please!
If you have read or are planning to read this book, please make sure to stop back by and leave me a comment to let me know your own thoughts!

From my library to yours,