Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Narrow Road to the Deep North - The Book Review Club

The Narrow Road to the Deep North
Richard Flanagan
Adult

Until recently, I'd never cursed an author, definitely not for making me care. It's what I want as a reader.

And then I read Richard Flanagan's The Narrow Road to the Deep North. The deeper I got into the story, the more often I found myself making silent bargains with Flanagan to just lighten up, please. I'd still like his book.

But he didn't lighten up. He made me care and feel in ways I only ever have for my own characters.

And that's when the cursing began. I even shook my fist at one point. And yes, I cried. I'm not a book cryer. Movies, weddings, a particularly good episode of "Modern Family" and I'm shamelessly weeping, but not books. Not even The Fault in Our Stars. I think it's an occupational callous I've built up over the years. Or, I thought it was. Until Flanagan. 

Basic plot: Dorrigo Evans is an Australian doctor who is taken prisoner during WW II by the Japanese and sent as a POW to help build the Death Railway through Siam and Burma. It's a story he recalls in his old age, unable to find love and remembering the one, forbidden love he gave up before leaving for war, his uncle's wife, Amy. In his own words, Evans says, "A happy man has no past, while an unhappy man has nothing else”.

Remorse is a powerful emotion. But if a whole story were solely about remorse and wallowing, I'd just as soon get up, make a cheese sandwich and abandon the story. Life is too short. While Flanagan's tale is full of remorse and regret, opportunities missed or not taken, it's also about those moments in life when a human being gets the chance to be more than they are, and - scared, unsure, but unwavering - takes it. It's the inseprarable interweaving of these and the connections they build that makes The Narrow Road into Deep North such an unforgettable read.

That and the amazing writing. Would that I could romance, cajole, sometimes even bully or beat words the way Flanagan does into sentences and thoughts with such pervasive effect.

For other great reads, saunter over to Barrie Summy's website. Mudslides or blizzards, she delivers!


5 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

I love that quotation and your emotional reaction. I shall take a look at this book. How interesting that we both chose WWII tales this month.

Barrie said...

I was thinking the same thing, Sarah and Stacy--two WWII books. Unusual. Any book that can make you cry and curse, Stacy, and has amazing language...is going in my TBR pile. Thanks for reviewing!

Cloudbuster said...

I was thinking the same thing. It's really interesting that you both picked WWII books, but from perspectives on opposites sides of the war. This sounds like a fascinating and moving read. And, of course, a fabulous review, Stacey!

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

Excellent review! Well done.

troutbirder said...

Good cop, bad cop review. I love it. If I can handle the mechanics I hope to join the "club"....:)