16 May 2017

Evensong by Kate Southwood

Sumary from Goodreads:
Margaret Maguire—a widow and grandmother, home from the hospital in time for Christmas—is no longer able to ignore the consequences of having married an imperious and arrogant man. Despite her efforts to be a good wife and mother in small-town Iowa, her adult children are now strangers to one another, past hope of reconciliation. Margaret’s granddaughter could be the one to break the cycle, but she can’t do it without Margaret’s help. It’s time to take stock, to examine the past—even time for Margaret to call herself to account.

By turns tenacious and tender, contrary and wry, Margaret examines her life’s tragedies and joys, motivations and choices, coming to view herself and the past with compassion, if not entirely with forgiveness. Beautifully rendered and poignantly told, Evensong is an indelible portrait of a woman searching for tranquility at the end of her days.

While perusing catalogs, I came across a book set in Iowa.  Gimmie.

Evensong by Kate Southwood beautiful, quiet, slowly unfolding story about an elderly woman near the end of her life.  As she recuperates from a heart attack, she contemplates the consequences of her choice of husband who died decades ago when their two children were young (nothing squicky, just not a great person, in the end). The family dynamics here are very intricate - encounters are either commonplace or fraught with tension between the daughters and grand-daughter.  Anyone who has had that awkward holiday dinner with the one overachieving weirdo relative that everyone else is winding up will understand.

Although I picked up Evensong specifically because it is set in Iowa - a fictional town somewhere down near Ft Madison - and it isn't specifically evocative of place, it very much deserves its comps to Marilynne Robinson's Gilead with with the focus on a long life, family, and the past.

Dear FTC: I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.

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