Sometimes you read a book and it has such a profound effect on you that you have to keep looking at the cover, front and back, and think – ‘Why have I never read this before?’
I’m reading Susan Minot’s Evening. And it so beautiful that I never ever want it to end. I’m reading each chapter over and over, dog-earing my favourite parts and wandering around reading aloud to my friends.
Driving them mad while I weep.
The book is about love and memory. Ann Grant Lord is sixty five and dying. She’s had a full life with three husbands, a few children, a lot of disappointment, a lot of courage and tons of love too.
But in death, she is taken back to a love affair from forty years ago.
A love affair that was the most exquisite ever.
A love affair that could never be realised.
Page 63, from her deathbed.
Well it does matter now, she said.
Of course it does.
It still matters, he said.
How can it? How can it matter anymore?
It matters inside, he said.
Where’s that? Can we go there together?
In a way
She was silent. They looked at each other in silence.
I just love that paragraph. They’re together, perhaps, and going back to a time, a day, of absolute love and passion.
The book is about memory. And how there are things in our lives that we will never be able to let go of. Even if we think we have. And that sometimes a love is so strong that it is always there. Even when everything else is forgotten.
Susan Minot has the most extraordinary way of writing. She has these run together sentences, sometimes a whole page long, joining past and present, feelings from then and now, without any punctuation. Just pure gasping magnificent reading.
And the fact that you cannot breathe as you read the sentences is exactly how one should feel about the most astonishing kind of love.
Breathless. Tortured. Passionate. And delighted too.
This is the book that is going to remain by my bedside table. It’s magnificent. I’m going to keep reading it.
Sorry to my book club, but you’re not getting this one back!
Susan Minot. EVENING.