Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Grist by Linda Little

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Read: February 19, 2014

Penelope MacLaughlin marries a miller and gradually discovers he is not as she imagined. Nonetheless she remains determined to make the best of life at the lonely mill up the Gunn Brook as she struggles to build a home around her husband’s eccentricities. His increasing absence leaves Penelope to run the mill herself, providing her with a living but also destroying the people she loves most. Penelope struggles with loss and isolation, and suffers the gradual erosion of her sense of self. A series of betrayals leaves her with nothing but the mill and her determination to save her grandchildren from their disturbed father. While she can prepare her grandsons for independence, her granddaughter is too young and so receives the greater gift: the story that made them all.

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Much like Anna Hope's Wake, I found Linda Little's Grist difficult to get into. Harshly emotional and more than a little sobering, I felt like I'd run a marathon by the time I finished the book and was, quite frankly, happy to done with it. I drafted my review soon after, but it languished in my pending folder for weeks before I returned to polish it.

Usually, this is where I reword the entry, format the coding for my blog post, add an image if applicable and check my grammar, but that didn't happen with Grist. Somewhere along the line the themes had settled in and while I still feel it a challenging piece, I found I truly appreciated the ideas and motifs Little worked into the narrative. 

Penelope is dealt a rough hand, but manages it with an atypical sort of strength. She's different, but her subtleties are uniquely attractive. Her husband, when one really considers him, is equally complex despite his dark and ugly nature. Interesting if not admirable, he is as unconventional as his spouse. An antagonist one can despise, but almost understand in his insanity.

The shifting point of view, especially when focused on the supporting cast, was distracting and the pacing left much to be desired, but under that exists something truly special. An enduring message of perseverance, courage and hope in the face of overwhelming heartache and oppression that haunts the reader long after the final page. 

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This is the story of how you were loved. All that came before, all you saw and heard, all you lost and lived without, this will be the truth to carry you, Granddaughter. Your brothers can walk into a world built for men. They will become men with wives to make them kings of their homes and to carry their pain and produce their joys. Truth would only slow them down. But you, my granddaughter, this is yours—the story that made you.
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Check out all the stops on Linda little's Grist VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR 

Monday, April 14
Interview & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Tuesday, April 15
Review at Reading the Past
Guest Post at Closed the Cover
Wednesday, April 16
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Thursday, April 17
Guest Post & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Friday, April 18
Review & Giveaway at The True Book Addict
Monday, April 21
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Guest Post & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Tuesday, April 22
Review at A Bookish Affair
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, April 24
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Spotlight & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Friday, April 25
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

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