Sunday, 15 April 2018

Post rerun on an icy morning...

It’s been an icy, windy, stormy weekend, and this morning is no exception.  Unfortunately, although I spent most of the day yesterday inside, sheltered from the treacherous weather conditions, I got very little reading done.  I’m hoping to do better today, as it looks like the weather will not be improving at all until tomorrow. But armed with a steaming cup of chai, a slice of freshly baked Date Bread and a good book, I’m all set!

I was struggling to find something to read last week after finishing the book club book, so I picked up my favourite novel of all time, The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck.  Every year around this time I have the urge to reread this book, as the first scene takes place on Good Friday.  I last read this book in April, 2016, and rather than spend time writing a new post, I thought I would just repost what I wrote earlier, with a few updates, so if you feel like you’ve read this before, you probably have!  This novel tells the story of Ethan Allen Hawley, descendant of a proud New England family whose family once owned half of New Baytown but whose father, through bad advice and bad choices, lost everything, with the result that Ethan is now a clerk in a grocery store his family once owned.  The store is now owned by Alfio Marullo, a man who came from Sicily decades earlier, but is still considered a “foreigner”. When one unusual occurrence is followed by another and yet another in rapid succession, Ethan is compelled to change himself, to dare himself to become what he thinks others want him to be, regardless of his innate honesty and belief in personal truth and accountability.  It is the picture of small-town life, and the exploration of the dynamics that work behind the facades of even the most benign-looking settings and groups. Ethan speaks directly to the reader, and we are drawn into the journey, the exploration, the insidious corruption that steals up on him and sends him spiraling downward, so that there is no specific point at which we can say, “Here is where he went wrong, here is the point at which he betrayed himself and finally achieved the status he thought he wanted, but at what cost?”  It is difficult to describe this book, because not much actually happens. It deals more with the deterioration of one man’s soul to fulfill the expectations others have of him.  It is a cautionary tale that reminds us to be careful what we wish for because we just might get it, and that sometimes the treasure we seek is already all around us. For juvenile fiction, we would call this a “coming-of-age” novel, where we would refer to the “loss of innocence” of the main character.  I don’t know if there are comparable terms that refer to adult literature, since loss of innocence is generally associated with youth, and surely Ethan has already come of age by the time this story begins. It's a bit like a Catcher in the Rye for adults - the reader wants him to hold on to the golden ring and not become corrupted, just as Holden Caulfield wants Phoebe to retain her childhood innocence.  I can’t praise this book enough, and enjoyed it just as much this time around as I have in the past.
That's all for today. Stay warm and keep reading! And don’t forget that next weekend is the CFUW Annual Used Book Sale, which is a treat for anyone who loves books:  http://www.cfuwkw.org/index.php?page=annual-used-book-sale

Bye for now…
Julie

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