The story is not neat and the protagonist is one of those arrogant New York drama queens, but author Lorna Landvik has a way of making her characters grow on you.
As I pondered the content of my second novel, my sister — an avid fiction reader — suggested I read Landvik’s “Welcome to the Great Mysterious.” Whether I learned anything from Landvik about writing, plotting or “sweetness,” I’m glad I spent a little time in her book.
“Welcome to the Great Mysterious” is the story of Broadway star Geneva Jordan who is called to return to her Minnesota roots for a month to babysit for her 13-year-old nephew, a boy with Down’s syndrome. After much squirming at the uncomfortableness of it all, she succumbs and, as a sweet story goes, she finds love and happiness.
Landvik certainly can turn a phrase:
- “After a lifetime of good health, our parents, now living in a retirement community in Arizona, had finally drawn the sorry-you-lose cards.”
- “A sob I didn’t even know was gathering jumped out of my throat, and I realized that darkness — not a darkness of light but a scarier, deeper one — had crawled into my arms.”
- “All of the male midlife crisis clichés he had started to fondle during our last months together, he now fully embraced — especially the need to hold on to his youth by holding on to the nearest twenty-two-year-old.”
- “The trees, dressed in gaudy reds and maroons and golds, stand there like a chorus line costumed by Roy Dale, lifting their skirts when the wind passes by.”
And despite the advertising for sweet, I was caught by the emotion in the story, sobbing at the loss near the end of the book. When an author can push you to tears, you know she’s doing something right.
I appreciated Landvik’s writing so much, I asked for more of her books for Christmas.