Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Jane Hamilton - A Map of the World

47. A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton (1994)
Length: 390 pages 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction 
Started: 19 September 2016
Finished: 5 October 2016
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 7 June 2016
Why do I have it? I like contemporary fiction and have read and enjoyed Disobedience by the same author in the past.

Although Alice and Howard Goodwin and their two young daughters have lived in Racine, Wisconsin for several years, they are still considered to be relative outsiders by a majority of the townspeople. The family actually operates the last remaining dairy farm which is located on the outskirts of the town. While the farm has always been a dream of Howard's; finally realized by infusions of money given to him by his disgruntled mother, Alice considers herself to be constitutionally unsuited to be a farmer's wife. She works as a school nurse because she loves children, but is otherwise disorganized, skittish and emotionally volatile.

Alice is also extremely lonely, but she finds some solace in her friendship with her best friend Theresa. Theresa also has two little girls, and so both young mothers arrange alternating play dates while babysitting each other's children. During a particularly brutally hot day in June - in the midst of a terrible drought - Alice daydreams for just a few crucial moments while the four girls play together. In the space of a few short minutes, Alice's life as much as the lives of everyone around her, takes a tragic turn.

The resulting tragedy only serves to alienate the Goodwins even further from their neighbors, as the residents of Racine begin to close ranks against Alice and her family. When she is subsequently arrested for an unthinkable crime, Alice is devastated by the vicious accusations being made against her - but because Howard is unable to raise her bail - she must remain in jail. While Alice suffers tremendously though her time in jail, she still learns a great deal about human frailty and solidarity.

Meanwhile, Howard and her girls must undergo their own trial by fire. A Map of the World is the touching second novel written by Jane Hamilton. This is a beautifully written story that paints a stunning picture of a marriage placed under serious pressure due to calamitous circumstances. It also poignantly addresses the capricious turns of fate and the lives caught in the unyielding grip of regret.

I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The story was well-written and full of sympathetic characters. I found myself totally immersed in the plot and I could completely understand how a person's entire life could be ruined by false accusations. As a matter of fact, reputations can be totally destroyed by the aftermath. I have actually read this book once before - approximately a decade ago - but as I can barely remember the plot, it's almost like I've never read the book at all. I would give this book a definite A+!

A+! - (96-100%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

1 comment:

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