Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Dear Great Book Guru,
I was at a wonderful event last weekend- the 21st Annual Sea Cliff Cookie Swap hosted by Elizabeth Weinstein in her beautiful home overlooking Hempstead Harbor. As usual the cookies were great and the company even better; during the evening, people began discussing their favorite books and one sounded particularly intriguing- PEARL by Mary Gordon. Have you read this book and if so, would you recommend it? Book and Cookie Lover
Dear Book and Cookie Lover, Elizabeth's cookie swaps are so much fun and I am delighted to know that her guests have such strong literary interests. PEARL is a favorite of mine, also, and a particularly appropriate choice for this time of year since the novel opens on Christmas Day in New York City. Maria has just received a call from the U.S. State Department that her twenty-year-old daughter Pearl is near death in Ireland after having gone without food for six weeks. Pearl is protesting the death of a young freedom fighter/terrorist . The remainder of the novel deals with Maria's attempts to convince Pearl that life is worth living despite the cruelties and injustices she sees all around her. She calls on the redemptive powers of art, beauty, and religion to win Pearl back. Gordon immerses us in present day Irish politics where we are left to ponder how government encourages the human propensity to destroy the weakest among us . At one point, Pearl asks her mother," Why is it that it is life we want?" Maria answers, "It seems we are meant to." With this answer, Pearl realizes her mother is no more certain than she. As the narrator directs us-" we will hope for the best."