Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shepherds Abiding by Jan Karon

Desperate for human contact, I picked up this book from my local library in hopes of joining the book club when they held their December meaning.

The book is a Christmas-themed addition to Karon's Mitford series, of which I have read none. It focuses on a retired clergyman as he secretly remodels a nativity scene for his wive's Christmas present. There are a host of other minor characters, impossible to keep up with unless, perhaps, you've been a fan of the series all along. One of my complaints, in fact, is that Karon makes little concessions for readers new to her series, with very little background or explanation for characters, scenarios which are probably familiar to her fan base, but are confusing to those outside of her loyal readership.

Another complaint, and this may seem terribly morose of me, but there you have it (I yam what I yam), the whole thing was just so entirely too lighthearted. There were no real deep struggles or problems for any of the characters. There was no high drama. You knew, at every point in the novel, that the characters were going to be okay. There was no villian. There was no intriguing conflict. There was no antagonistic action that brought tension enough to keep you reading in suspense, thus there was, for me, no climax. The retired clergyman prayed that he would finish the nativity scene in time for Christmas. At one point he dropped and broke an angel. Big whoop.

The whole thing was all too quaint. The ending was sugar sweet happy. Bah. Humbug.

I really can't complain, because it is exactly what I would expect from a book club at my local library, which is supported by a small, conservative Christian community. I'm not downing Christianity at all, but I would like to discuss a book that has a little more bite to it, a little more meat to chew, a book that deals with religion, faith, or any other topic in a more complex way. - 1 star

6 comments:

Jason Gignac said...

Well... I know it's a commute, but Amanda has a classic lit club at the library here in San Antonio every month... My Antonio this month.

Jason Gignac said...

Antonia, that is. Antonia.

Amber said...

ha! yeah, a little bit of a trek. Maybe I could start a classic lit club here...

I'm just noting that most of my reviews lately have been pretty dismal. I'm actually enjoying the book I'm reading right now, so maybe I'll have a 4 or 5 star review comin' up.

Amanda said...

I imagine, sometimes, that our mood affects the way we see a book we might have seen differently in a different mood. I go through periods of boredom where no book can make me happy, no matter how brilliant.

Amanda said...

ps - the classics make great book clubs. We have new members coming all the time! I never expected there to be such an interest in classics, but our group has just exploded. Even with most of the original group either unable to come or moved away, we have tons of people.

Booger said...

I'm in a different book club at the same library as Amanda and we're doing The Gathering by Anne Enright this month. Most of the books i review here were discussed in that group. Your librarian would probably welcome a classic or contemporary literature group. You can get studies guides with reviews and discussion questions off the internet for both.