This book landed in the shop a few week ago and one day I picked it up as a potential bedtime book because I liked the cover photo.
It’s not true, that old saying; you can TOTALLY judge a book by its cover.
This story circles Mary Gooch, a 25-years-married 304-lb. woman whose husband walks out on her just before the Silver Anniversary celebration. My friend Carolyn Jourdan often talks about “Queenagers,” and the character of Mary is something between an indictment and a celebration of that concept.
But it’s not a typical “he done her wrong” or one of those “my weight problems started with my mother” sagas. Nope. Gooch (as the husband is known) leaves Mary quite a bit of money in the bank before splitting, and leads her on a bit of a trail through history as she tries to find him. Mary travels as much through her own heart and memories as she does from Ontario to California, and from heaviness to light in more ways than one.
Don’t get the impression that this is a simple book about losing weight to gain everything else. The book has subtle language, simple ways of packing meaning into compact phrases, and of twisting assumptions just a little bit to keep actions from devolving into stereotypes.
I’d love to offer you a quote to show you what I’m talking about, but I hand- sold the book to someone who was visiting the shop after reading Little Bookstore, who said how much she’d liked the Monday Book posts, and asked what was coming up. And of course I grabbed The Wife’s Tale and started talking fast in enthusiastic tones, and now I don’t own the book any more.
But I bet your local bookshop or library has a copy. And it’s a lovely read, a beach book for the literary set, perhaps, but not even so easily pinned down as that. The writing is magnificent, the subject interesting and not dealt with in any trite way, and the outcomes are …… lively. You won’t regret the time you spend with Mary Gooch.
Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, bookstore management, Life reflections, out of things to read, publishing, reading, Sarah Nelson, small town USA, Uncategorized, writing
Note to self:
Dear Self –
The next time you are asked to speak as the visiting author at Allandale Mansion in Kingsport (a historic home of castle-esque proportions now reserved for weddings and Junior League flower shows and the Kingsport Women’s Book Club to which I had been invited) do not wear Birkenstocks. Your long flowing skirt and flowered blazer were fine; retro is always somewhat charming in an author and you had the good sense to braid your hair so that it looked like you weren’t trying too hard. This worked in your favor amidst those lovely Spring Pastels and beautiful stylish bobs. But there are limits, and you should not try to find them. Next time, wear ballerina flats.
Dear Self II –
The next time that man who collects cans in the neighborhood asks if he can sit on your porch and drink a beer, say no. It is one thing to be nice to someone life has clearly run over; it is another to watch him spend the next fifteen minutes drinking from a can the size of Texas, spitting over your porch rail, and panhandling customers going out the door. Learn to say no, dear; it is a life skill you must acquire now that you are in your forties.
Dear Self III –
The next time you demand your husband fix something and he heads off with duck tape in hand, follow him. That way you will learn just how he intends for those el cheapo fly screens to last the summer, or the water hose on the washing machine not to flood the garage. And you can save time, and possibly your marriage, by not having to cope with a sudden new water feature in the garage. The sound of water splashing over rocks is lovely–outside. Indoors on concrete, not so much.
Thank you, self.