November book

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    • Arlene McLeish

      Brrr – it’s getting chilly, isn’t it? I was away for the last few days of October with a study group in Northen France, and the weather was beautifully sunny – but still cold. I made it onto the beach several times for a walk, but was wrapped up warmly with scarf and gloves!!!

      The book for November is ‘Happenstance’ by Carol Shields. This is an unusual book in that it’s actually two novels, and if you use a print version, you’ll find that it’s published in such as way that you can start with either one. If you start from one side, you’ll read the story as narrated by the wife, but if you turn the book upside down, you’ll be able to start the novel from the ‘back’ and read the story from the husband’s point of view.

      If you’re reading via Kindle, you won’t have the same opportunity, but bear in mind that these two accounts are about the same events – and depending on which account you read first, you may well see the novel in a different way to someone else.

      Nothing much really happens in this novel – much like real life for many of us! But then again, it’s the small things that accumulate to create much bigger events….

      Brenda, a 41 year old housewife, has recently discovered an interest in quilting (sound familiar to anyone?), and much to her surprise, is very good at it. She goes to a week long quilting event in Philadelphia on her own – the first time in many years that she’s been apart from Jack, her husband. While she’s there, she starts to realise how ‘restricting’ her life is, and to re-evaluate what she wants.
      Jack, on the other hand, has always been ‘the one in charge’, responsible for earning the money and making big decisions. But left to himself, he finds that he’s not as capable as he thought. Furthermore, he come s to realise that his life’s work isn’t really as impactful as he’d thought.

      Both of them have to re-evaluate how they feel about their relationship, and what they want from it.

      This isn’t a light-hearted book, and tackles some serious issues.

      Is it too serious?
      Should books always be for light relief, or is there a place for more serious contemplation??
      And for whom do you feel more sympathy/empathy – Brenda or Jack?

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