Thursday, February 12, 2009
The Laws of Harmony
I was particularly pleased to be offered a copy of Judith Ryan Hendrick's latest novel from Harper Collins. I'd read all three of Hendrick's previous books, and have a special fondness for one of them, her first novel Bread Alone. Bread Alone is the story of a woman in an unhappy marriage who moves away and makes a new life for herself. The thing I remember most about this book is the fact that the main character bakes bread, oh does she bake bread! By the end of the book, I was so seduced by Hendrick's descriptions of yeast and kneading and rising, that I baked my own bread.
Hendrick's latest novel, The Laws of Harmony, is similar to Bread Alone in some ways: the main character also leaves her life to begin again and she is also a cook.
Sunny Cooper grew up on a commune in New Mexico and as soon as she is an adult she does everything in her power to leave her past behind. She attends college, supports herself, and eventually moves in with her boyfriend Michael. She is looking for a 'normal' life, but events will dictate otherwise. Sunny receives news that Michael has died in a car accident; soon after her home is broken into. Sunny's life is shattered, she realizes that Michael's job was not what it seemed and she is in danger. Sunny sells everything and moves to San Miguel Island, one of the Channel Islands. There she begins again, finding a home, job and new friendships. Several surprise discoveries turn Sunny's life upside down yet again, and she struggles to maintain equilibrium and mend the troubled relationship with her mother whom she left on the commune.
I enjoyed reading The Laws of Harmony, it's an easy read and I found that the 478 pages flew by. There's a lot going on in this book and Hendrick's does a good job of pulling it all together. As I was nearing the end of this book, I suddenly realized there was no way Hendrick's was going to tie up all the loose ends in this novel. On the one hand, this leaves things open for a sequel, which I would probably read, on the other hand, after 478 pages, I would have liked a little bit more closure - it's the sort of thing where you sort of know what is going to happen and I would have liked to read about it, rather than imagine it. That just might be my own preference.
If you think you might be interested in this book Harper Collins has a browse inside function found here where you can read part of the book and see what you think.