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The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel

>> Friday, September 26, 2008

Genre: Fiction
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 258
Challenges:
2008 2nds #1, TBR 2008 Alternate #5

It’s hard to say much about this book without spoiling plot elements that I don’t want to spoil, so this will be limited.

Langston Braverman returns home to Haddington, Indiana after abruptly walking out of her PhD orals. She doesn’t appear to be interested in doing anything beyond writing in her attic room and walking her dog. She’s self absorbed, smug and actually a bit insufferable. She also appears to not be interested in doing anything along the lines of getting a job which distresses her mother.

Amos Townsend is the local preacher. He’s struggling with a bit of a crisis of faith as well as how to communicate his thoughts on theology and philosophy to his parishioners.

Langston’s childhood friend Alice has recently died, leaving two little girls who have their own set of issues. They are telling people that they’ve been given the new names of Immaculata and Epiphany. Their grandmother is clearly in over her head trying to provide a home and care for these troubled girls.

I’d read and enjoyed Kimmel’s memoir “A Girl Named Zippy” and was curious to see what her first novel was like. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, it’s got flaws, the writing is beautiful, but sometimes the conversations just don’t ring true. It’s not the same lighthearted stuff that I enjoyed so much in Zippy, but there are still some humorous moments about small town life and quirky families mixed in with the philosophy, theology, and tragedy. Langston isn’t really a sympathetic character, but that also is what makes her interesting.

I would imagine that readers hoping for another Zippy will be very disappointed in this book, but readers who what to see what else a good writer can do will be interested. I wasn’t surprised to see some very mixed reviews of this one, but I liked it a lot.

3 comments:

Anna 9/26/2008 8:38 PM  

I've never heard of this book, but it sounds interesting.

I like the title "A Girl Named Zippy."

Kristen DeDeyn Kirk 9/29/2008 11:38 AM  

The author sounds brave to try something different -- which is refreshing and rare.

SuziQoregon 10/07/2008 2:24 PM  

Anna: I thought it was good. I also liked Zippy a lot even though they were quite different.

Kristen: I agree.

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