Luck

Luck

Book - 2005
Average Rating:
3
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Nora, an artist, finds herself suddenly widowed and in the days following her husband's death, she, with the help of her friends Beth and Sophie, must figure out what comes next.
Publisher: Toronto : A.A. Knopf Canada, 2005.
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780676977004
0676977006
Characteristics: 307 p.

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g
GLNovak
Apr 27, 2014

I said I really liked this book. I liked the pace of it, the way the author uses words and constructs sentences, the way her characters are revealed over the course of the two-year timeframe. I didn't really care for half the characters. I found them to be isolated, unfeeling, and distant. The sympathetic ones - Sophie, Max, Hendrick, Bill - are more than overbalanced by Nora, Beth, Lynn and Philip (who although dying at the very beginning is still very much a force throughout the rest of the narrative). We are privy to each one's reaction to Philip's death and to the new dynamic thrust upon Nora, Sophie and Beth in their shared household. What ensues is an assessment by each of who they are and what they want in life and how they can get it. Interesting journey for them all.

n
nsbookclub
Jul 22, 2012

Read 2008

e
egajd
Sep 10, 2011

Barfoot likes to play with how the obvious in people can be so wrong. And she does this very well, again, in Luck, where she adds the ambivalence of luck, especially that of perceived luck, both good and bad.

The stage upon which Barfoot's characters explore luck is in the extended quasi-family dynamics of three disparate women living together who find their relatively impersonal work-based relationship instantly and confusingly personalized by the sudden death of Nora's middle-aged husband.

I thoroughly enjoyed how Barfoot introduces Nora with an early morning scream at her discovery that the husband she had laid down with the night before has become in their sleep a corpse. She is a successful mixed media graphic artist and Barfoot's nuance and detail make her very interesting. But as day one of the post-mortem evolves Barfoot quietly and slowly expands the depths and complexity of the other two characters to the point that Nora eventually becomes the least interesting of the three characters.

The story is told primarily through Nora, but the other two get to tell their tales too until they are all fully fleshed out. Sophie, the personal assistant who was traumatized by the failure of her good intentions to change or even ameliorate evil in the world and is in hiding inside Nora's household from that and her own do-gooder hypocrisy. There is Beth, the beautiful and pliable model who appears to the other two as an oddly vain and empty-minded ex-beauty queen with nothing of interest to offer them except to be the butt of their condescension and feigned tolerance for her compulsive need to push on them her complex health teas and other infusions.

The exploration of luck begins with how each of them have felt lucky: Nora for having found Phil and Beth and Sophie; Sophie for having found Phil and Nora; and Beth for having been found by Nora. But it is an ambivalent sort of luck because it has trapped them all in a pattern of relative unchanging — I was going to write, "comfort" but that's not quite right. Undemanding familiarity, perhaps, because their interpersonal demands are not of family, not of work mates, not of school mates. Oddly, they relate to each other from the strict requirements of their own self-interests which have been unthreatened by the others' own sell pre-occupations.

And with the ostensible bad luck of Phil dying young all that changes. The barriers of self-interest are breached in ways that are unexpected to all women and disorienting, The exploration is at times delightful and sad. Barfoot is unafraid to present characters who are seriously flawed and undoubtedly unlikable, but with such sympathy that I cared to see how each of them survived. The characters are complex enough that their interpersonal and psychological devolutions are not predictable. And the ending is a very pleasant surprise of character development.

So, with all that, and even though I thoroughly enjoyed the book I am still hesitant to give this five stars because it didn't quite blow me away.

For the curious I have extended the discussion on my blog with a couple of citations @ http://egajdbooks.blogspot.com/2011/09/20110908-luck-finished-fushigi.html.

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