This 350 page books follows for one year the lives of five women who belong to a book club. Each woman has different backgrounds and weathers different crises throughout the year. I thought the book was somewhat long, but maybe that’s just my ADD kicking in, rushing for something to happen. Then, I read the Epilogue.
I found myself most aligning with Gabrielle, the hard-working middle class mother of four; however, her character was the one least written about. The other women, Eve and Doris, both privileged, stay at home moms (at first), Midge the bohemian and Anne the accomplished, put-together lawyer, lead lives vastly different from my own.
I thought the best quote of the book was the epilogue:
All stories come to an end…Sometimes we see that we only have a few pages left we slow down, savoring each word, staving off the inevitable. The characters we’ve come to know and love are no longer part of our lives. This can leave us with a certain longing. Perhaps we’ll open the book again and skim through it, searching out favorite passages to kindle again those powerful emotions. But the passion is never stirred quite as strong the second time around.
So it is with life. We rush through the days that we’re given, eager to engage in the conflicts and passions, to push through and conquer and see how it all ends. When suddenly the end is in sight, we’re surprised. We stall, frantically savoring each moment. The sun shines brighter, the smiles appear more tender and we listen for words of love with an urgency that would be poignant if it were not so heartbreaking.
I have to tell myself repeatedly to slow down and smell the roses especially at this time of my life, the downhill slide into old age. I have mental lists of things I want to accomplish every day as though if I don’t accomplish something, I have wasted a day, a day that I will never get back. Now should be the time for me, to enjoy myself, my adult children and grandchildren, my husband. Time for me to slow down and relish those years of life I have left and be thankful for what I have.
The other welcome point of this novel were the poems and verses selected for each chapter. I know nothing of some of the classics that are referred to, others I’ve known but not read:
Chapter One: Rachel Jacobsohn, The Reading Group Handbook
Chapter Two: 11 Timothy 4:6-8
Chapter Three: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Children’s Hour
Chapter Four: Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Chapter Five: Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary
Chapter Six: John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent
Chapter Seven: Robert Herrick, To Virgins, to Make Much of Time
Chapter Eight: L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Chapter Nine: Jack London, The Call of the Wild
Chapter Ten: Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Chapter Eleven: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Chapter Twelve: Dante, The Inferno (Canto V)
Chapter Thirteen: Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
Chapter Fourteen: T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
Chapter Fifteen: King David, Psalm 29 “Weeping comes in the evening but joy comes in the morning”.
Chapter Sixteen: Kate Chopin, The Awakening
Chapter Seventeen: The Bible “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die”.