'The Gin Closet'
By: Leslie Jamison
Published: Free Press; Feb. 2010
Synopsis: First-time novelist Jamison portrays three generations of “wounded women” in an exquisite blues of a novel. The youngest, pretty Stella, is living the hip, single New York life, but she takes the train to Connecticut at night to care for Lucy, her grandmother, from whom age is stealing strength and clarity. When Stella learns a family secret, that she has a long-estranged aunt, she finds Tilly in a trailer park in Nevada and becomes entangled in her toxic sorrows. Narrating by turns in each lonely woman’s voice, Jamison creates emotionally complex scenes of harsh revelation in language as scorching as the gin Tilly downs in terrifying quantities. Stella is nearly as bedeviled, having struggled with the weird, dicey power of anorexia. The two make their way to Tilly’s banker son’s fortress of an apartment in a sketchy neighborhood in San Francisco, where all three are forced to recognize the limits of love. With trenchant cameos by other women teetering on the brink, Jamison’s novel of solitary confinement within one’s pain is hauntingly beautiful.
My Take: I do believe that there are times in your life when you are better equipped to read certain books than at other times in your life. I think that reading is cyclical. You reach for certain books at certain times because they speak to you. At every stage of your life, characters in books are going to appeal to you more or less because they are like you or not. I think that is probably inevitable.
On the flip side, I think, depending on what you are going through personally, you can either read certain books and go through the pain and torment the characters are dealing with or you can't because it is just too much on top of all of the other crap (for lack of a more exquisite term) life has already thrown at you and you just have to move onto something lighter because that is what your needs are. For me, after a year in which I have had to go to hell and well I am maybe, maybe just starting a journey back, a gritty, really gritty book just isn't what my sensibilities need. It overwhelmed them. I have a hard time having sympathy for them. I get that their life sucks, but mine does too and well, I'd rather read about cowboys, or a love of clothes, or an obsession with food, or anything else really besides why we hate each other in our own family and then choose willingly to commit incest with our first cousins as adults as this book deals with because I can't deal with this right now. So that's my honest truth.
Other people, however love this book. Read their reviews for a different viewpoint. The book was well written, however not right for me:
The Crowded Leaf
Coffee and a Book Chick
(Thank you to the author for sending me this book)