My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Finished: December 23, 2017
In the first page “Dad” Lewis learns his cancer can’t be stopped. We watch him reflect on some key relationships as he fades. Although there is death and broken relationships in the first two books of the Plain Song trilogy, this last book is the darkest.
“By the beginning of September the dirt would be piled over what was leftof him out at the cemetery three miles east of town, Someone would cut his name into the face of a tombstone and it would be as if he nevel was.” [p 5]
In Plainsong and Eventide we mostly see people who have chances at relationship with others and take them – or at least move toward the new. Dad won’t be able to do that. His one true love, his wife was his luck and allowed him to build a better life after leaving an abusive home as a young teen. The husband and wife relationship is all we expect from the Kent Haruf novels. Even though she ends up in the hospital with exhaustion, she walks away and miles back home to take care of her dying husband.
Although everyone calls him “Dad” he hasn’t always been the loving dad – but more the stern dad. Talking with his daughter, Lorraine we see the situation in a nutshell.
You know how much they think of you.
Well, I think a lot of them too. But they never say much, do they, They never say much to me.
You don’t let people, Daddy. You never have.
You think that’s what it is?
Yes, I do. [p 160]
Like the other two books in the series we also get looks into the lives of other inhabitants of Holt, Colorado; many of whom have parallel struggles: mother and daughter Alene; the little girl Alice across the street, and the the new minister and his troubled family. Some take the opportunity for relationship regardless of the cost; others pass.
In the three novels, Haruf urges us to take chances on opening our hearts with other people. In the two earlier stories the McPheron brothers opened their lives to Victoria and her daughter; later Raymond McPheron finds romantic love. Dad Lewis found love and luck with his wife but unfortunately not in some of the other big relationship events in his life. We do see him trying to change; which is hopeful.
Benediction is a nice counterpoint to the other two novels. I don’t recommend starting here; work your way through the series from the start.