Friday, February 26, 2010

The Solace of Leaving Early

The Solace of Leaving Early is a fascinating look at the people in a small town, through the preconceived notions they have of one another. A brilliant student walks away from her academic life, mothers and daughters navigate the mine fields of their relationships, a preacher struggles with his relevance, a marriage unravels with tragic results. As the unique characters in the story struggle to pick up the pieces around them, they find themselves made more whole in the process.

This is my third Haven Kimmel book, my first of her novels, her first novel. I've already gushed in my previous reviews how much I love her writing style, and again, yes, very much. She is unique, brutally perceptive and gifted with descriptive talent. I have to read her in spurts, each chapter is so riveting and thought provoking or ponderous to me that I plaster the pages with sticky notes. Also, I try to make it last, because I know I'll read it too fast. If I were ever to be stuck reading a book over and over, I'd like to start here. Her characters are all so very real and tragic and touching and human. People and relationships shine in every imaginable combination. And she writes a compelling, touching story. But that’s only a piece of my adulation.

Haven Kimmel is a smart writer, she's used her education and curiosity and intellect to great advantage, drawing from sources I can barely grasp. I wonder what she hasn't read or studied. Through her bright characters, she name drops authors of philosophy and theology that make me feel desperately that I need to learn more, read more, think even more, to help make sense of it all. She made me start another reading list, and not much of it fiction: Donne, Whitehead, Updike, Tillich - just to name a few. I think philosophy and reason and religion classes might have given me some perspective or foundation I lack. Luckily, none of that is required to enjoy this story, but it is always nice for me to leave a book enthused about learning more.

It is very hard to pick a favorite quote, but here is one:

Amos knew AnnaLee was nervous around the children. She couldn't determine how to be herself; she was just moved by the desire to save them, to rescue them from the flood. But she's just like the rest of us, Amos thought. The water is wide and her boat is so small.


  1. "The water is wide and her boat is so small."
    Man. I wish I'd written that line.

  2. Me too! It sums it up perfectly...

  3. Love this blog. It's nice to hear how one feels about a book, and is able to convey it in a summary so well.
    I love to read, and appreciate a good recommendation.

  4. good one Mel :) I will remember to come back here for some ideas in a couple of weeks when i need some more book ideas.