Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Last Helping Of Harvest

Funny how you find yourself recovering from Thanksgiving excitement only to find yourself right up on Christmas craziness! The Fall / Winter transition with the holidays and all is my favorite time of year but yea... leaves me with a slight but constant weariness lol. My fatigue blended with a holiday helping of sinusitis left me with energy to do little more than delve into my books and my Kleenex box for a few days.

I opened up this book Harvest Moon by K.C. McKinnon (the penname of writer Catherine Pelletier) thinking it's a short read, should be a good, chill break from the more politically themed books I've been tearing through recently. Harvest Moon is the story of Maggie McIntyre, a forty-something whose husband does the mid-life crisis and runs off with his assistant. About to be a divorcee, Maggie herself runs off to re-start her life in the small Canadian town where she spent summers as a teenage girl. She hopes to reconnect with her first love, Robert Flaubert.

Apparently a movie version of this book was made a few years back,
I didn't see it but came across something about it when I was writing up this post.
Doesn't surprise me, this book reads like a Hallmark movie lol

I was pretty underwhelmed by this one. The story wasn't awful, I really liked the Canadian setting, but it didn't feel like the characters were developed enough to make the kind of epic love McKinnon was trying to create all that believable. I would say this had more the feel of a short story or novella. One reason I have a hard time getting into short stories is the length prohibits the kind of in-depth character development I really enjoy in novels. That was sort of the feeling I got here. The little bits of Robert's letters didn't really tug at my heart, they just sounded like a clingy teenage boy pushing too hard to have more than fun summer flings. A girl is suppose to make a forever decision that early in life? Calm down boy! Everyone thinks they "know" it's love with the first one, doesn't always make it so. Young Maggie isn't convinced it's forever love until years later when her marriage to another man flatlines and she starts to ask what if. She moves back to this town in Canada and sadly finds that Robert died a few years back from a heart attack. Within days of her arrival back in town, Maggie finds herself caught up in a romance with Robert's 20 something son, of all people.

I read a number of reviews on this book screaming "ICK!" over this but honestly it's not the worst plotline I've ever come across. It's not incestual, it's just kinda weird and unusual, out of the norm. The idea of the relationship with Robert's son didn't bother me -- I actually read a similar storyline in Emmeline by Judith Rossner --  but the forced "I've loved you so long even though I just met you" sentiment was a bit much. Robert naming his son Eliot because Maggie's favorite author was T.S. Eliot (before she discovers Yeats) even though Eliot's not her son (that WOULD be  exponential ICK!!) -- see what I mean about clingy? .... Eliot romancing Maggie with Neil Young's "Harvest Moon".... the whole book was on schmaltz overload -- though I admit, I do kinda like that song, mainly because it reminds me of my mom playing and singing to the record when I was a kid :-)

TYPO! "Eliot had begun to fidget, the toe of his book kicking now against the broken shards of coffee cup..."


Another thing I found funny, the pic of the Harvest Inn reminded me a little bit of the opening shot of the 1970s British comedy series, Fawlty Towers

The book did remind me of a great T.S. Eliot poem though, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".
Bit of a cumbersome title but definitely a beautiful poem. It's a little long, you can read the whole thing here, but here is an excerpt, just to give you an idea:

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats        5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question….        10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,        15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,        20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.