Sunday, August 11, 2013

Book Review: The English Teacher

Is it possible to be held hostage by an event in your past?  And is it possible to become liberated if you confront and acknowledge the incident?

A while back in a blog I gushed about Lily King's book, Father of the Rain. It was so good that I went to the local library to take out another of her novels.  The second book, the English Teacher, is about--well an English teacher. She works at a private school, is a single parent, and against her instincts decides to marry a suitor.

I liked the book and enjoyed some sections particularly.  One that describes her behavior after a death is very well written and captures expertly, at least as I imagine, her interactions as they would have been.  However, while Father in the Rain was and is the kind of book that makes you want to grab a stranger and tell her or him to read it, I don't feel that way about The English Teacher.  The symbolism is a little heavy--it begins when the hostages are taken in 1979 and ends when the hostages are released.  And the message is not that profound and could be captured in a few pages.  We can be prisoners of our history and, unless we take steps and embrace the love around us, our sentences can be interminable.

This book, like Father in the Rain, deals more than a little bit, with the perils of drink.  I read an interview with the author and that--plus the centrality of drinking in the two novels--makes me wonder how bruised she may have been by people who used alcohol as an illusory balm.

No comments:

Post a Comment