April 10, 2006
Lost in the Forest
Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller
Finished on 4/4/06
Rating: B+ (7/10 Good)
I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it up last month. I rarely read book reviews (too many spoilers) and oftentimes don’t even read the book blurb on the back cover or inside flap. I heard about the book when it first came out and knew that it was something I’d like to read (I’ve read and enjoyed several other books by Miller), but by the time I got a copy, I’d long forgotten the reason for my interest. I must say I was a bit surprised to see that, once again, I’d wound up with a book dealing with grief.
Miller reminds me a bit of Elizabeth Berg. She articulates her thoughts on marriage, family and love in such a way that I find myself nodding my head in agreement, finding comfort in the validation of my own feelings, especially those still-fresh feelings of grief. I found myself slowing down, re-reading passages, trying to savor each and every sentence. I was immediately drawn into the drama, as Eva (and her children) learned to cope with the unexpected loss of her husband.
As I read, I began to think that this book would wind up in my Top Ten for the year. It had all the ingredients of a great book – engaging from the first page, passages worthy of jotting down (or dog-earing the page), likeable characters, and a beautifully described setting (Napa Valley). But about halfway in, the plot took a dramatic turn and my enthusiasm (if not my interest) began to wane. This certainly wasn’t the great book I thought it’d be, but it wasn’t a bad read, either. I guess I just wish it had more to do with Eva and her new life and working in her bookstore and less of Daisy and the drama that unfolded in her life. I also feel that some of the main characters (Emily and Mark) became less important to the narrative in the second half, whereas they were front and center (with Eva, Daisy and Theo) in the beginning.
Over all, this is a book I’d like to keep for a possible re-read. As I mentioned, there were a few passages that resonated with me personally and perhaps now that I know how the story ends, I won’t be quite as disappointed when I give it a second reading.
“Eva was reading. She had only recently begun to be able to read again, whole books – this had been impossible for almost a year. Now she looked forward to it. The book, waiting in the living room after she got Theo down. Waiting at her bedside. The circle of light falling over the white bedsheets, the subtle smell of the paper. Wanting just another chapter, and then, perhaps, another. Wanting something she could so easily have. When it had been gone, she hadn’t been able to miss it – she was too taken up with grief. But now that it had returned to her, she was grateful to this old love – books, the words – for coming back, for reminding her of the possibility of pleasure, of anticipation. Of being transported out of her own life into others.” (p. 143 hardcover)
“But relief came in this case, wanted or not. As the process went on, as Eva took the first steps toward recovering from her sense of having lost everything, as she was more able to spend sometimes a whole day without being swept by sorrow, then she began to grieve for her very grief, her letting go of John. She didn’t want to let go of him! She didn’t want to speak lovingly and in the past tense of him. She didn’t want to not be furious at his death, at how he had died…
A normal day, a day in which she didn’t weep, in which she wasn’t felled by rage or sorrow, was like a betrayal of what had happened to him.
But they came, the normal days, more and more of them, and by degrees they stole her grief from her – her last connection to John, she felt then.” (p. 22-23)