This is my first official novel that I've listened to, not read.
My car is old enough (as most are) not to have an ipod jack. It took me several months of whining to myself about not being able to listen to my iPhone in the car to realize that upgrading my radio would be a lot cheaper than replacing my car. I'm clever like that. So hubby got the radio replaced for my birthday, and for Mother's Day bought me The Knitting Circle for my iPhone.
As mentioned in a previous post, Ann Hood's The Knitting Circle is the semi-autobiographical account of a woman named Mary whose daughter died suddenly at age 5. The novel picks up about 6 months after Stella's death, and tracks Mary's grief journey for a couple of years.
I didn't love it. The writing style was bland, the conversations contrived, and the storyline relatively predictable.
But, the content really spoke to me. Hood nails many of the experiences of a bereaved parent, from the awkward conversations with friends who now don't know what to say to you, to the pain of various anniversaries and memories, to the self-absorption that I think all bereaved parents experience and can't escape. She also described a clinical depression well.
And, she very capably explained the sedative properties of knitting, the way that the movement of the needles and the feel of the yarn somehow distracts the brain enough from the ongoing pain that there is a taste of relief.
I'm not sure if the act of listening to the book rather than reading it altered my experience of it or not. I sure did enjoy my commute more.
To me, a glaring omission was the lack of exploration of the existential angst that it seems that most bereaved parents go through. The is-there-a-god-why-did-you-god-screw-you-god-i-need-you-god-what's-the-effing-point that I have heard from most bereaved parents was very very absent. From an author's standpoint, I would think this would be worth exploring. I'm not sure why she left it alone.
It wasn't as depressing as I thought it would be. I did cry, in two places, but by and large I was not overwhelmed by the sadness of the story. It's interesting, years ago I swore off of Oprah's book club after reading Map of the World and another sad story, wondering why in the hell people would spend their free time reading tragic, depressing novels. Now I guess I know.