Monday, 3 September 2012

September means back to the books...

Reviewing Man in the Blue Moon by Michael Morris

I am still trying to decide what I think of this book, Man in the Blue Moon. I was intrigued by the premise, a desperate woman and her family pinning their hopes on a shipment of what they thought was a valuable grandfather clock, only to open the shipping crate and have a man climb out. I was even more intrigued when I discovered that this particular bit of the tale was actually based on a true yarn told in the author's family.

Oh, by the way, it seems terribly appropriate that I was reading this on a weekend that did in fact have a blue moon. An omen? Perhaps.

Anyhow, Southern Gothic is the way I would describe Man in the Blue Moon, as it is packed full of tragedy and suffering of every kind, from the no-good loser opium-smoking husband who abandons his family to the moments where that family almost has something good happen to them only to have it wrenched from their desperate fingers. I know life is hard but sometimes I wished the author would throw them a bone, or just give them one day of sheer joy, pleasure and a nice banana split, or something authentic to that period. Oh, I know, he does allow them a cherry lemonade once. But you want more for Ella and her little boys who are trying to be men.

I felt I did not get to know Ella, the main character, quite as well as I wanted to. Lanier, the faith-healing mystery man, was much more fleshed out as a character, and he was a good one. The villains in this piece are a bit cardboard for my liking, particularly Harlan, Ella's no-count husband. It sometimes seemed like all of these bad people were placed on Earth for the sole purpose of making Ella's life a living hell. They just didn't exist otherwise.

There are historical details here that hold true and made me want to read more on the subject specifically of the 1918 flu pandemic. This theme dovetailed nicely with that of the mystical faith healings brought about by Lanier.

Man in the Blue Moon did hook me in, but I had a hard time holding on to the line all the way through. Still, I think it will definitely appeal to a certain audience.

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book to review but all opinions are, as always, very much my own.

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