29 August 2011
I have heard about Diane Chamberlain for quite a while, but this is the first actual book that I have read by this author. I am not sure what I was expecting, but what I got was an amazing read from an author that I cannot wait to read more from.
This book is actually two stories. The first is the story of Laura Brandon. At the beginning of the book Laura's father has just died and her husband commits suicide. As a result, her 5 year old daughter Emma quits speaking. Laura's story centers mostly around her resolve to help Emma get over the pain and trauma of the two deaths that come so close together. It is the story of a mother's love for her child, confusion over exactly how to help her, and the resulting feeling of hopelessness for not being able to "make it all better". Ms. Chamberlain crafts a good story in this regard that will have you hoping for Emma and Laura to get their lives back on track.
The real story in the book, though, is the story of Sarah Tolley, a woman in her 70s who is suffering from Alzheimers. Laura promises her dying father that she will visit Sarah. A woman that she has never heard of before her father tells her his dying wish. Through Laura's visits to Sarah we begin to find out about Sarah's life story, and it is definitely a fascinating one. As the stories progress, we find out that all is not what it seems, until the final clue is revealed in the end.
I loved Sarah's story. I found it compelling and at times I actually wanted to skip the Laura and Emma parts and just get back to Sarah. As Sarah revealed more and more about her life, I found myself trying hard to guess where her story was leading, which is a real plus in my book. The more the story engages me, the more I want to know about the characters, the more I enjoy. And Sarah was definitely someone I wanted to read more about. Not that Laura's story wasn't good. It was definitely engaging also. And as the book continued, both stories really got me involved.
The best part of the book, I have to say, was the ending. The way that the author tied all the elements in the stories together to bring us to her conclusion was fascinating. In addition, she took the story in a direction that I never anticipated. In fact, at one point, certain elements of the story were revealed, and I actually pumped my fist and shouted, "Yes", much to the laughter of my son. Ms. Chamberlain is definitely a master at crafting a story and knows how to keep readers interested and engaged. I have several other books by her on my list and am anxiously awaiting a chance to read them.
As a younger adult, I loved the John Wayne classic version of True Grit. When I saw they were making a new version, I decided to watch the old, then see the new. The result was two very different movies, which then spurred me on to read the book. My quest was to see which movie more closely followed the original book version. So..I ordered it from the library and sat back to wait my turn.
The book version of this classic tale reads almost like a movie script. By that I mean that it consists mostly of either dialog, or of descriptions as told through the eyes of the female protagonist, Mattie Ross. Mattie is the thirteen year old daughter of an Arkansas rancher who is murdered when he goes to town to buy horses. Since she is the oldest child, and her father's right hand person, she is sent to Fort Smith to claim his body, but decided to stay on and avenge his murder. The result is an action story about three people chasing down a criminal in Oklahoma Indian Territory. Since the book is told through Mattie's voice, it is less of an adventure story and more of a character study of the people involved. Mattie Ross is a self assured, older than her years, head strong girl. She teams up with Marshall Rooster Cogburn, an almost washed up, grizzled U.S. Marshall who likes to shoot first and ask questions later. The third major character in the story is LeBeouf, a by the book Texas Ranger who is long on attitude and ego and just happens to be chasing the same criminal that Mattie is after.
The resulting story is an interesting read and a good story. Both movies stick pretty close to the book in both plot and dialog, with the newer version being a little more true to the details. As a result, if you have seen either movie, there is really nothing new to learn by reading the book. In fact, I really enjoyed the movies more than the book in this instance.