Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Threadbare Heart (Jennie Nash)

Title: The Threadbare Heart
Author: Jennie Nash
Genre: Adult fiction
Pages: 318
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: Reading from my Shelves
FTC Disclosure: I was given a copy of the book by the author
Summary (from the back of the book): A photo of her sons. A doormat from Target. Twenty-three tubs of fabric. Somehow it comforts Lily to list the things she lost when a wildfire engulfed the Santa Barbara avocado ranch she shared with her husband, Tom. He didn't make it out either. His last act was to save her grandmother's lace from the flames--an heirloom she has never been able to take scissors to, that she was saving for someday.

As she negotiates her way through her grief, mourning both the tangible and the intangible, Lily wonders about her long marriage. Was it worth all the work, the self-denial? Did she stay with Tom just to avoid loneliness? Should she have been more like her mother, Eleanor--thrice-married and even now, approaching eight, cavalier about men and, it seems, even about her daughter's emotions? It's up to Lily to understand what she could still gain even when it seems that everything is lost. Someday has arrived.

Review: Jennie Nash and I went to high school together so when I started seeing reviews of her newest book I emailed her to congratulate her on the success. Her response was to send me a signed book and I have had huge guilt for not reading it sooner. However, boy am I glad I got around to it! This is a lovely book though I don't love the summary on the back of the book, it gives away a pivotal event that happens late in the book.

Although there is a plot in this book (see the summary above), I felt like I was reading a family study. Wait, that isn't really the correct term, but I don't know what is. The chapters focus on various family members (Lily and Tom, Eleanor the mother, Luke and Ryan their children, and Olivia Ryan's wife) while propelling the story forward. I love seeing stories from different vantage points so this worked very well for me. And, it's told in the third person so the voice is consistent throughout the book. While learning more about the story in each chapter the reader really learns more about the characters, their inner thoughts, their fears and desires, and how they feel they fit into the world and this family.

One of the main themes in this book is love, not gushy romantic love, but love for friends, relatives, spouses, and children. What does it take to make a marriage last? How do jealousies affect our familial relationships? What does it mean to allow ourselves to be loved? I think Nash did a fantastic job of exploring feelings, emotions, and what it really means to give of oneself, and, what it means to lose.

If someone told me that this book is really a character study I might not have read it since I don't usually like that type of thing, I am really a plot-driven reader. However, I read this book in just two days, savoring the ideas that it swirled around in my mind, thinking about my own life, relationships, and family.
Geography Connection


(photo credit for the image of the Tea fire and its aftermath)

Click to see my updated Google Map. This Geography Connection is the closest it comes to being my space. This novel is set in Santa Barbara where I live so I know the restaurants and shops the characters go to. And the fires, we have had two in the last few years (the Tea Fire and the Jesusita Fire), for the first one we had to evacuate our house. We were lucky and the fire stayed about half a mile from our home. I know so many people who lost everything in these fires (luckily no lives, just possessions) that this part of the book felt so very real and current.

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