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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

ABIDE WITH ME by ELIZABETH STROUT

Abide with Me


As foreigners the view that most people have of America  and Americans is totally at variance with what is actually on the ground! We see the glamour, the sex and the city type of characters or those of the Wild West or of course the harrowing murderers in the universities and schools. Very seldom is highlighted the beauty of rural America - the ranches, the mountains of Vermont, the deserts of New Mexico or just simply the little towns that seem to dot the whole of the vast American continent.

It is only through reading that one would realize that there is another facet to the American way of life. This story set in a small town in the 1950s embodies what America would have been like and would most probably be like. Not impersonal characters who wouldn't even know who their neighbour is, but very similar to a Sri Lankan village, where everybody knew everybody else's business and intimately!

A newly widowed pastor who loses his rather exuberant wife to cancer is left solely in charge of bringing up two small daughters. The infant is taken over by her grandmother and though our pastor Tyler wants desperately to bring his little daughter back he does not have the courage to over rule his overbearing mother. Tyler Caskey is a good man in every sense of the term - but he does not have the courage of his convictions to state out clearly his intentions or his way of  looking at life and this reticence brings him at loggerheads with his parishioners who do not understand his ways. Hypocrisy amongst his parishioners who want to seem as if supportive but at the same time tattling behind his back continues throughout the story and though they themselves know that they have a pastor who has their best interests at heart, they are bound by conservative ideas of propriety and strict rules guiding behavior and protocol so they cannot understand Tyler and the way he is bringing up his young daughter Katherine who is in trauma herself after the death of her mother. Tyler's belief in God is shaken after the death of his wife and he does not seem to be able to bring to his sermons or his interactions with his parishioners the spirit that moved him  before. This also alienates his people.

This is a story of ordinary times - a very day to day story in the life of a small town community. How they must pull together for the greater good, show compassion for those who fall by the wayside is the main focus of this book.

5 comments:

Heather said...

I enjoy reading books like this occasionally. ordinary people in those situations that arise and have to be dealt with. Very grounding after reading the more fantastical books which seem to be everywhere and getting the most press.

Most appealing cover for this book, would make me want to pick it up.

Laura Fabiani said...

It's great that reading this book opened up another view of the American life for you. I love books that do that for me too when it comes to foreign countries.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Loved your review!

Laura's Reviews said...

Great review! I definitely need to check this out. I agree that any book that can open you up to another view of America is great. The glitz and glamour shown on TV is definitely not the life of a typical American.

Lisa said...

What a great review! I love that this book brought you insight into the reality of American life. People all over the world really are very much alike!