Benediction – Kent Haruf

Benediction - Kent Haruf

Benediction – Kent Haruf

As I read and enjoyed Plainsong, I was keen to read this when I saw it at the library – although I now suspect I have read them out of order and would have gained more if I had Eventide instead.

Here is the blurb …

When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife must work together, along with their daughter, to make his final days as comfortable as possible, despite the bitter absence of their estranged son. Next door, a young girl moves in with her grandmother and contends with the memories that Dad’s condition stirs up of her own mother’s death. A newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and son, and soon faces the disdain of his congregation when he offers more than they are used to getting on Sunday mornings. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do all they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.

I do like Haruf’s writing style – his prose is sparse and simple. This novel has a melancholic feel to it. The end of a life and how to achieve that gracefully. What happens to his store? Will his estranged son return? The community is also affected by Dad’s dying – the little girl next door remembers her mother’s death, the new preacher trying to fit his version of Christianity into a small town with narrow minded views of the world, the preacher’s wife and son trying to fit into another new town and the middle aged woman who feels that life has past her by – a brief affair with a married man that seems to have doomed her to a lonely life teaching and then living with her elderly mother.

This novel is short and easy to read, but not to be read by the downcast.

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