Friday, September 4, 2009

The Wife's Tale - Lori Lansens

A blogger is sometimes asked "What's your favourite book?' I have discovered many authors that I absolutely love. But when pressed, my all time favourite is Canadian Lori Lansens. Her first novel Rush Home Road - and Addy Shadd, the indomitable, remarkable protagonist - has stayed with me since it was written in 2002.

Newly released by Random House Canada, The Wife's Tale is Lansen's third book. I have been anticipating this one for months.....

Mary Gooch is a resident of Baldoon County, a fictionalized setting in the Chatham, Ontario area used for all three of Lansen's novels.

Mary lives with her husband Jimmy Gooch in the small town of Leaford. Mary is overweight, very overweight and has been for most of her life.

"Mary remembered, when she was nine years old, stepping off the scale in Dr. Ruttle's office and hearing him whisper the word to her slight mother, Irma. It was an unfamiliar word, but one she understood in the context of the fairy-tale world. Obeast. There were witches and warlocks. So must there be ogres and obeasts. Little big Mary wasn't confused by the diagnosis. It made sense to her child's mind that her body had become an outward manifestation of the starving animal in her gut."

Trapped within a mountain of flesh and powerless to control 'her raging hunger', she waits for Jimmy to come home. She is planning a party for their 25th wedding anniversary. Mary sits reminiscing and we are privy to her past and the emotions that come with it - the joy, sadness, anguish and... 'her hunger was ever present, but her self loathing came in waves." As she waits, she is struck by a sense of foreboding. When Jimmy doesn't return...

"It struck her that there must be some other door left open through which she'd let out Gooch."

Mary has been cocooned in the small, insulated world of Leaford. Gooch always wanted Mary to come with him in his furniture truck on deliveries to other locales, but Mary always resisted. With nothing but a receipt from a Toronto restaurant to go on, Mary braves the world and strikes out to find Jimmy.

What follows is an amzing journey on so many levels. I don't want to spoil the book, so I'm not going to give you much more of the plot. This is a book that deserves to be unfolded for each and every reader's discovery.

Why do I love Lori Lansen's writing so much? Her characters. They become so real - I get so invested in their stories. Mary's hurt, pain, bewilderment and awakening evoke such strong emotions. I ache when Mary is treated cruelly and rejoice when kindness comes from unlikely sources. The supporting cast of characters are no less vividly drawn. Each of them has their own hunger to battle.

Lansen's deft turn with a phrase, a description, create an achingly real portrait of a woman whose driving, tearing, roaring hunger has robbed her of much of life. Her journey to reclaimation is thought provoking and gut wrenching.

I thought about Mary Gooch long after I turned the last page. Yet again, Lansens has captured me. When asked about my favourite now, I will have to answer with both Rush Home Road and The Wife's Tale.

Lansen has created a great website. There are photo albums depicting the settings in the book, a great book club discussion page

Has anyone else read this yet? What are your thoughts? How did you feel about Mary Gooch?


Mari said...

I reviewed this book this week and also loved it.

It's our online book pick for Feb 2010.

Jonita said...

I haven't read an Lori Lansens yet, but I have a copy of "The Girls" on its way to my house soon! I'm looking forward to reading it, more so now that I know that Lansens is a favourite (Canadian!) author of yours. Have you read "The Girls"? What did you think?

Luanne said...

Hey Jonita:

Yes I've read The Girls as well. I definitely enjoyed it. It is a difficult story, but again told so very well. Let me know what you think after you read it.

bermudaonion said...

Oooh, I love great characters like that. This book sounds wonderful.

Aimee said...

The Girls is ne of my favourite books.

So pleased to read your post and discover another book by LL is on the way! I'm sure to love it :)


Patti V. said...

This book looks so good. I loved Rush Home Road and I have reserved The Girls, so I'm anxious to start reading that.

Kate said...

I'm glad that the book lived up to your expectations. Rush Home Road is also one of my favourites. I've read The Girls - still a good read, and I've loaned it out to friends, but I didn't like it as much as Rush Home Road. I look forward to reading The Wife's Tale now.

8GR8LOLCATS said...

Hi! My name is Carm and I live in Buffalo, NY- just over the border from the setting in the book. Retired Elementary School teacher.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through it and I was about to recommend it on Facebook to friends. I was an "obeast" obese little girl... I am a normal-weight adult who constantly fights the fight- diet and exercise. This book has been therapy for me... I also have several friends who are/have been 300+ pounds and it has made me understand their struggle. Anyway I'm loving it...

I've replaced food with cats and grandkids these days.

I'm also reading all of Adriana Trigiana's Books- LOVE her too!!!

Mary S. said...

I loved this book, but wanted an ending. I know that I could make up my own ending, but I really like a story to give you an idea of what is going to happen next. I was very disappointed when I turned the page and found that I wasn't getting that.

Sorry, I am disappointed.