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robtwinem

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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

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Emotive and soul-searching

Ordinary Grace: A Novel (Paperback) - Common - by William Kent Krueger

What a truly wonderful story, a novel which I started yesterday and finished today, unable to put down so engrossed was I with not only the lyrical story telling but the happy, sad and often painful content.

 

Frank Drum is a 13 year old boy growing up in the small town of New Bremen in the mid western US state of Minnesota. He lives with his mum Ruth an accomplished artist and pianist, his dad Nathan a Methodist minister, his brother Jake and his oh so talented sister Ariel who will surely set the world on fire with her virtuoso piano playing. But in this carefree summer of 1961 Frank will begin his transformation into adulthood and his future will be shaped by soon to be acquired knowledge that death can come in many forms and this visitation will shape and mould the basis of his adult life. At the centre of the story a tragic event occurs, an event that will have lasting repercussions not only on the Drum family but many of the residents of this tight knit community, where so many lives are entwined and affected by the decisions of others.

 

The author expertly captures life in a small rural enclave and is told through the voice of Frank Drum as he looks back some 40 years with sadness and warmth. The writing is sublime combining the magical elements of a "Walton's" story with reality, harshness and struggle of everyday living. Yet it is the elegance of the prose that draws the reader in, making a lasting impression and asking us to question our moral values in an attempt to understand what is really important in this life we live...."I set on the steps of my father's church thinking how much I loved the dark. The taste of what if offered sweet on the tongue of my imagination. The delicious burn of trespass on my conscience. I was a sinner. I knew that without a doubt. But I was not alone"......."And what is happiness, Nathan? In my experience, it's only a moment's pause here and there on what is otherwise a long and difficult road".........."Whatever cracks were there the war forced apart, and what we might otherwise have kept inside came spilling out"......."because I was little more than a child wrapped in a soothing blanket of illusion"......"We entered a period in which every moment was weighted with both the absolute necessity of hope and a terrible and almost unbearable anticipation of the worst"......

 

I found out about the writing skills of William Kent Krueger through my active involvement with the book social forum "Goodreads" and what a delight and pleasure this has been. I look forward to reading so much more by this great author and will close this review with yet another astute observation of the human condition...."Being dead was a thing and not a horrible thing because it was finished and if you believed in God, and I did, then you were probably in a better place. But dying was a terribly human process and could, I knew, be full of pain and suffering and great fear"......Highly, highly recommended.