Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Dear Great Book Guru,  Last week, I joined with a hardy group of Sea Cliff residents and friends to ring and sing  in the new year on the Village Green.  I love moments like that when we can be part of something larger than ourselves.  While at this event, someone mentioned a short, beautifully written novel  set in the Ozarks in the  1920’s   Any thoughts?   For Whom the Bell Tolls

Dear For Whom…,  Yes, THE MAID’S VERSION by Daniel Woodrell is a very good read and it does indeed deal with community, but not in the lovely way you describe.  The main character is  Alma Dunahew, the maid whose life past and present is forever scarred by a fiery dance hall  explosion in which 42 people, including her beloved, fun-loving sister Ruby, were killed. The town is haunted for generations by the mystery of who was responsible.  Alma ‘s hard life is made even harder when she questions those whose money and position put them above suspicion. In exquisitely drawn tiny portraits, we meet victims and survivors; the innocent and the guilty; the poor and their masters; ultimately we are shown the power of money  to make “things”  go away. When we come to the end of the book, we realize we have learned much about Alma’s community-  its bigotry, its cruelty, its injustice, and, yes, at times,  its generosity. Highly recommended!

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