Dear Great Book Guru, I am headed this week for a family holiday party in Point Lookout. There are many readers among the group and someone will surely ask what I have read lately. With the holidays, I have fallen behind in my reading so can you suggest something I can “bring to the table”? Holiday Party Goer
Dear Holiday Party Goer, I just finished a harrowing but rewarding novel by Edna O’Brien: THE LITTLE RED CHAIRS. Set in the small rural village of Cloonoila in the west of Ireland, the story opens in fairytale fashion with the arrival of a mysterious stranger who evokes fear and wonder in all who meet him. We hear from ten villagers as they come to know Doctor Vlad . Sister Bonaventure, an elderly nun, is his first patient, and she finds great comfort in his massages and herbal remedies. The local priest too is quickly won over while Diarmuid, the village school teacher, remains wary of this “visionary healer.” But it is Fidelma- the beautiful young wife of an elderly man- that we long to protect from Doctor Vlad. When the truth of his identity comes to light, we are horrified at the enormity of his sins and the depth of Fidelma’s suffering. We travel from Cloonoila to London to The Hague, with these journeys reinforcing the mystical quality of the novel, as we come to witness the struggle between the forces of good and evil embodied in Vlad and Fidelma. Recommended!