about books, old and new and other forms of art that make life worth living
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Books And Other Arts Book Review: Woman Made Of Sand
******************************************************** Joann Kobin, author of "A Woman Made of Sand" actually started the novel, as many works of fiction today, as a short story. The short story is now a chapter within the novel. The title of the book is derived from a short story that is also now a chapter in the book. As odd as this seems, the book is a bit like a mosaic or a work of modern art in that as much as it seems pieces of it are incongruous, they actually do all work together quite well.
The novel is broken, as mentioned above, into different chapters, and also flits back and forth between the past and present. It is told essentially in the voice of protagonist, Harriet Stedman. At the opening of the novel she's remarking on the family she has, as well as the family she's married into, prompted to reminisce because of her father-in-law's death. Harriet is married to Phillip, the scion of a family of wallpaper manufacturers, and together they have two children, Matina, and Eric.
The things I found most interesting about the novel are the way the chapters, which can each stand alone as short stories, manage to blend with each other in a way that seems effortless. Harriet recounts years when her children were young and the immediate family had moved to Virginia so her husband could spread his own wings and test his skills out of the family business, working for an advertising agency. She also recounts moving back to New York state as the family lived a seemingly idyllic life in a more suburban setting.
I was enchanted by the way Kobin captured the concept that a life is comprised of many different "seasons" in which priorities, goals, hopes, dreams, skills, and lifestyles all change. In this novel she weaves us several different tales (chapter by chapter, literally) which demonstrate the only thing we can count on in life is that change is constant; sometimes it's slow, sometimes swift, sometimes of our own choosing, sometimes not. Each of the characters cope with it to the best of their ability. By the end of the novel, Phillip and Harriet have divorced, their children are grown, and even at the end of the novel, one of the characters announces another change in his life. And, like a ripple across a lake, all the characters feel the change.