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I chose this selection for my BookClub because the plot was something I had not yet come across in my reading although this topic has been forefront in the news the past few years.
Being a Catholic myself, I am well versed with church dogma and spent many years in the company of priests and nuns. This was a first time read for me by this author, so I had none of her other works to use as a comparison.
Although the beginning drew me in, for some reason the novel did not keep riveted. I am not sure why. Perhaps it was the author's style of writing, it just seemed to me, that it took a long time to tell a simple story.
This is a story filled with love, loss, forgiveness and the tenacity of family. Although the author spent lots of time developing Lizzie's character, I wish she had spent more time developing Father Mike's and Vivienne's. I wanted more about them and never really got it. I had questions for which I never got answers; what happens to Lizzie's and Father Mike's relationship? Andrea Harmon? Why no scene between Father Mike and Vivienne?...and a few others.
I appreciated the plot twists in the later chapters, I didn't see all of them coming. This was an unexpected treat which woke me up long enough to finish the story.
The story had lots of potential but I think the way it was written it never quite reached it.
All in all, a sad tale with no real winners. All the characters were left hurt and broken.
A tragic accident leads Wood's heroine, Lizzy, back to her childhood. When Lizzy's parents died in a car accident, she is sent to live with her uncle, a priest at a small parish. The idyllic childhood years unfold setting the stage for the tragedies yet to come. After all, there is no longer fall than the one from an idyllic childhood. Post-accident Lizzy tries to piece together the events that led to her sudden removal from her uncle's charge. In Wood's intricately woven plot, we find out why only at the end when the story comes together like the pieces of Humpty-Dumpty's shell.
Wood tells the story by alternating point of views between Lizzy and Father Mike. She takes readers into a maelstrom of right and wrong as the story unfolds. Father Mike is as devoted to his church as any priest. Yet he is tempted. This dilemma coupled with Lizzy's recollections of her childhood build into a gripping story.
With a cast of interesting characters, each one developed with the care of a precise writer, Wood crafts a story with masterful prose. The writing never falters as in this passage, "I spent seven years as Father Mike's child, a time delicate and fossilized, sweet as a paw print encased in amber, telling as a line on a cave wall."
This book is worth reading not just for the superb prose and story telling, but because Wood forces readers to examine their understanding of right and wrong. A great novel demands your attention long after you have finished it. That is exactly what Wood has accomplished in this fine novel.
I am a big fan of author Monica Wood, even more so after meeting her at a book event. This is the second of her books I've read that have a priest as a main character. Her real uncle was a priest. This book was another great story with wonderful characters. One of my favorite things about the book is that when it starts, Lizxy's marriage is in real trouble. When the book ends, her marriage is probably stronger than it has ever been. That is only one of the many surprises I found in this book. I never anticipated any of them. Some reviewers think that some of the events were too outlandish to be believed; however, I am not one of them.
Lizzy Mitchell is shattered by a hit-and-run driver. WHile piecing herself back together, she must revisit the past to understand how she and her uncle lost each other. The plot is not simple, but it is almost as believable as it is complicated. It is also a little disappointing. But read the book anyway for Wood's characters (especially the Bad Samaritan--incredibly well written), for its lovely and nuanced passages of how marriages come apart and come back together, for its view of friendship, parenthood, childhood. Most of all, read it to understand the passion and joy in the call to priesthood.
Father Mike's capacity for self-sacrifice and care is no surprise, seeing as how he's a priest and all, but what is a surprise is his complete delight in fatherhood. Any Bitter Thing is that rare book, a portrait of a man as a devoted, loving, self-sacrificing single parent. Crow Lake is one of these books, Silas Marner is another. What's interesting to me is that the men in these books are not the biological fathers, they take on children who have lost their parents. Parenthood is a transformative event, but I wonder if there are books about biological fatherhood that offer this same spellbinding vision of its power.
From the intriguing first sentence ("Despite its abrupt arrival, my accident felt anticipated after the fact, like a long-delayed package arriving as a thwup on the doorstep") to the close of this beautiful novel, Monica Wood crafts a story that is both a page-turner and a luminously written exploration of faith, betrayal, and love.
It's not easy to say what this novel is about: abuse scandals within the Catholic church, the ubiquity of loneliness, the hard work that a marriage demands, the punishments of secrecy, the joys and terrors of love?
Wood holds all these themes together in the interwoven voices and characters of Lizzy, a young woman recovering from a near fatal hit-and-run accident, and Father Mike, the Catholic priest and uncle who raised her when her parents died.
The story is one that readers will both want to rush through and savor, lingering over lovely phrasings such as "Telling felt like resting" or "Bad news usually arrives ugly."
The writing style of Monica Wood is so smooth and engrossing that any flaws in the storyline are more than forgiven. You can tell this author was dedicated to the final product of her work, with a well thought out plot and the nuanced connections between all of her characters. The big reveal at the end teetered on the edge of unbelievability, but with Wood's writing being so enjoyable, her words dancing together throughout the book, it makes Any Bitter Thing a highly-recommended read. Don't be put off by the subject matter of a priest accused of impropriety......learn the truth from this master storyteller.
I don't remember a book with so many interwoven turns and surprises, braiding itself through three decades. It kept me wondering and turning the pages faster as I moved into the developing story. Circumstances in life challenge previously held principles. It is a rich and deeply engaging story, inviting self-reflection and examination, if one were given the same experiences. I intend to have discussion with a group of friends as our first book club choice.
Reading this book was like falling into a wonderful lagoon filled with words and images, feelings and impressions. But you don't sink into any of these wonderful things; you simply are buoyed by them and float upon them in a magical way. The author's prose is incredible; the story is touching, surprising, thought-provoking. This was a book that I hated to see end, and that I find myself thinking about long after finishing. I highly recommend this book. It is not simply a story of a priest accused...it is so much more than that, with many suprise twists as the reader continues to the ending. I can't wait to read other books by this author.
I absolutely devoured this book. The language is so beautiful you could eat it with a spoon. This is one of the best books I've ever read. I cannot say enough good things about it. And unlike The Secret Life of Bees which it was (oddly) compared to by Glamour magazine; I loved it. I read The Secret Life of Bees and wasn't that impressed by it. Not so with this. I am now off to find more and more Monica Wood. I too am amazed that this book has not attracted more attention. It is a rare gem. I swear, you could pair it with a medium-bodied merlot. Delicious!
This was one of the best books I have read. It has it all--love, mystery, suspense, sorrow, pain, forgiveness--. The story does grab your interest from the beginning and keeps getting better. It continues to have surprises and twists that are totally unexpected and unpredicted. I am one that generally tries to figure out the ending but I didn't see this one coming! Extremely well written. I highly recommend it and have to all my friends.