For 40 days, I am choosing a book from my personal book shelves. It will be a book that is insightful, intriguing, or illuminating about women. I will write why I think this book is a positive one and worth a read. This isn’t advertising for me or to promote any of my friends. It’s simply praise for good books.
Day 3 – The Dearly Departed by Elinor Lipman
I own a stack of Elinor Lipman’s novels and love her wry portrayals of sisters, daughters, friends, and lovers across a range of ages, careers, and life experiences. Elinor’s writing style is warm-hearted and witty, but her stories address life and love with as much pathos as humor.
Why is The Dearly Departed a good read for women? In it, the sudden – and somewhat odd – death of her mother makes Sunny Batten return to King George, New Hampshire. Sunny’s recollections of the one-stop-sign town are mixed. She was both outstanding and an outcast as the girl who broke the glass ceiling of the all male high school golf team. Returning home with her grudges still intact, Sunny discovers that her old tormentors have matured into nice people. Is it possible that growing up in King George wasn’t quite as awful as she remembers it? She also discovers that her mother’s involvement in the town’s theater group made her a better actress than Sunny ever suspected. With a new vision of her past, Sunny plans her mother’s funeral aided by the chief of police. Joey Loach was a goofball in high school and maybe he still lives with his own mother, but now he’s solicitous, gallant…pretty cute.
The Dearly Departed is light-hearted in tone, but Sunny’s return to her roots allows her–and the reader–to think about longtime hurts from a mature perspective. It shows a daughter who begins to view her mother as a woman: a person engaged in her own life, pursuing her own interests, with desires and admirers. When did you stop thinking of your mother as Mom and began to regard her as a woman?