Friday, March 27, 2009

Book #13: The Cape Ann

Book #13 for me was our March book group offering The Cape Ann. Although this book has been around for many years, and has been well-regarded, I had never read it. Our book group read another, shorter book by Faith Sullivan several years ago, one called What a Woman Must Do.

Like last month's book, Little Heathens, this novel is set in the Great Depression. But while there are moments of simple pleasure in The Cape Ann, the book most clearly depicts the grim reality of how desperate that time was for many people. The young heroine, Lark, at times seemed to me almost a little too wise beyond her years; other times her words and thoughts were pitch perfect.

The common thread between The Cape Ann and What a Woman Must Do is the theme of a strong woman, doing what is hard but necessary. Lark's mother is portrayed as a larger-than-life character: smart, strong, resourceful, and compassionate: she won't give up her dreams. Many heart-breaking events happen in the course of this story. In our meeting last night, we were struck by the absence of strong male characters (although we all liked Father Delias, when he forgave Lark's sins, but not when he refused to bury Hilly.)

Here is my favorite quotation from the book:
After Lark's confession: "When I thrust aside the curtain and left, my feet were as weightless as I imagined Fred Astaire's to be. I floated down the aisle in a gauzy haze of light and lightness. In my life I had never felt such disencumbrance. If I lifted my arms, I would float up to the dark beams and along the ceiling, and my new innocence would hold me aloft. This was how angels felt."

6 comments:

Auntie Knickers said...

I probably won't go back to this book, which my book club read some years ago but which I didn't finish. But your review made me feel a little better about it. I gave up too quickly, perhaps, as I didn't want to read about the abusive situation and it felt like another one of those women-as-victim stories. Glad to hear it turned out better.

Diane said...

Well Auntie, there's a whole lot of awful going on in this book, but I will say that Lark's mother is anything but a victim.

Barbara B. said...

I remember reading (and liking) The Cape Ann years ago. Love the quote.

Jennifer said...

I'm getting ready to read The Worst Hard Time, but after Lent. One can only bear so much....

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I hadn't heard of this one before. It sounds interesting. But I have a huge stack to get to first.

Diane said...

Ruth -- my stack is huge, too...