Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fiction by Women

A week or two ago, I posted a link to  They are offering a free audiobook download of Hannah Coulter this month.  Hannah Coulter is one my favorite books.  It is written by Wendell Berry.  What I remember most being struck by in this book is that a man wrote it.  He wrote it with all the reality of life and accurately wrote what a woman would think or feel walking in the shoes of Hannah (or at least what I, as a woman, imagine she would think).  What often with books is that people of the of the opposite sex, particularly women, write what they would want someone of the opposite sex to say--not necessarily What they would say.    

This past week I read a book that made me feel just this way.  It was written by a woman, but it felt a bit unbelievable.  I just couldn't imagine a man saying what the man in this book did.  

The book I read was Mercy Come Morning by Lisa Tawn Bergren.  I wanted to read it because it examined the struggle when a loved one dies of Alzheimers.  The main character is Krista.  Her mother began showing signs of Alzheimers when she was 14 years old and had full blown Alzheimers by the time Krista was 19 years old.  

The plot also involves Dane, Krista's high school sweetheart.  In the story, Krista and Dane are about 37 years old.  Dane has waited 20 years for Krista and he began the Alzheimers clinic where Krista's mom lives.  Krista has pushed him away many times over those years since high school. Of course the story is as much about Krista and her mom as it is about her relationship with Dane.

The plot about Krista and her mom was interesting, but the part about her and Dane seemed contrived because of the dialogue and their interaction.  I had a hard time believing that Dane would have waited 20 years for her or that he would have said the things he did.  

The writing of this book was fine, but since the story didn't seem entirely realistic to me I wouldn't recommend it.  I did read in the front of the book that the author really did her homework about Alzheimers.  That part of the story was very cohesive.  It was the other plot elements that struggled.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook/Multnomah publishing.


Kim said...

I have had similar thought about men writing stories about women. For instance, I really couldn't imagine A Thousand Splendid Suns written by a woman. I think he did an amazing job capturing the thoughts and voices of both main women characters. Women writers seem to me to be more "touchy-feely" and that rarely appeals to me. Of course, judging from book sales I'm most likely in the minority. :)

Anne said...

I agree with you about A Thousand Splendid Suns! I think many books are written in the style people want to read--not necessarily what is real--"escapist" fiction is aptly named ;) There are many times I want to escape into what I read, but I have seen in myself that it's not wise to read books that are too unrealistic because they can shape your ideas of how life should be. "touchy-feely" is a good description :) In the book the Dane character was far more "touchy-feely" than I think a man usually is.