Monthly Archives: May 2008

GAP CREEK BY ROBERT MORGAN

Simon and Schuster, 326 pages.

There’s something special about this book that made me read it once again. I first read it when I was 18 years old and now almost 10 years later, I am still mesmerized the second time around.

Set in the Appalachian high country towards the end of the 19th century, 17 year old Julie Harmon is facing hard truths of life–hard toil, death, and poverty. She marries Hank Richards and they move to start their married life at Gap Creek.

But things do not get remotely better in Gap Creek, as one tragedy after another strike the newlyweds.

On a plain birds eye point of view, this whole novel may be wrongly tagged as dark, depressing and morbid.  But the overall feeling that it leaves in the end is eternal hope.  You wouldn’t think that raw and simple words would successfully bring out Julie’s admirable character.

Gap Creek: The Story of a Marriage.  Admirable. Is a perfect word to describe this novel.

A future classic must read for everybody.

Author Robert Morgan is a professor of English at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

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The Pact by Jodi Picoult

Allen & Unwin. 451 pages.

+++WARNING: BIG FAT SPOILER AHEAD+++

This is only my second Jodi Picoult read (First being the famous My Sister’s Keeper). And already, I can see a structured pattern. She takes controversial family, domestic and society issues and somehow turns them ‘relatable’ by writing how ordinary (though fictiona)l families deal with it–in the form of her novels.

The main difference is, “My Sister’s Keeper” is at least very debatable, the opposing sides of which are both equally justifiable. “The Pact”, whose title by the way goes by a second line: “A love story”, has a plot and storyline that I can only sum up in one word: Stupid.  I don’t have any other euphemism for it, nor could I think of any other synonym or a more intelligent description.

The theme is very engaging–childhood sweethearts Emily Gold. 17 and Chris Harte,18 have been soulmates since they were born. Then one night, Emily was found dead with a single bullet shot to her head.

The book’s chapters alternate between the now–Court trials , Chris’ time in prison, and the famillies’ grieving, and then–memories of Chris and Emily from the moment they were born, and how they grew up together, how the relationship escalated.

Chris tells everybody that it was a botched up double suicide. (He was found unconcious and bleeding next to Emily’s body) but no one believes him.  The rest of the story unfolds showing Emily’s issues and unstableness (yet for me it wasnt in depth enough to understand why she became suicidal).

The story builds up in a way that you think there’d be a nice twist in the end (consolation to the depressing theme at least) but noooo..
At the very end of the book, after Picoult has taken you over repetitive lines, emotions and scenes, she presents a ‘revelation’ from Chris. I could have guessed that revelation myself (not even my best guess at that).

So he helped Emily kill herself because…. (now this reason I wouldn’t have guessed at all because it’s out of this world dumb)….he loves her so much, he would do anything for her.

When he could have had the BIGGEST chance to save her life–he helps her end it. Is that love?? That’s downright stupidity.

Just as she did in “My Sister’s Keeper”, Picoult again uses a character for ‘grief relief’. Unnecessarily  opening up minor characters’ personal lives ( Chris’ defense lawyer Jordan McAfee). There are some authors and books that use this kind of ‘relief’ very well. But with Picoult, it somehow comes out unessential and time-wasting.

“The Pact” is in Angus and Robertson’s Best 100 novels list.

And basing on reviews, this book is so well-loved.

Help me understand why.