Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bookends, by Liz Curtis Higgs (Multnomah)

(Click cover for more information)

So, I'm in the bookstore the week before Christmas. There's a few bucks of my shopping allowance left and Jeannie likes to read, so let's see what's available. I scan the shelves and my eye stops on a really classy cover design. It's got old books on it--which I'm a sucker for--so it's at least worth pulling off the shelf for a look-see.

Hmmm...Bookends. Clever title (I think). Let's see what else it's got going for it

Top endorsement reads, "Witty, charming, delightful". I cringe. All the testosterone in my hand and halfway up my arm jumps ship.

Backmatter leads with, "Opposites attract? Maybe not." Okay, I've got this one nailed: "relationship book."

Jeannie'll like that; I won't have to. My 'guy card' is still recovering from an earlier review, but I think I'm safe having it in the house.

Jeannie finishes the book after Christmas around the same time I finish the book I just reviewed, a real guy's book—sweaty and everything.

"You want to try this one?" Jeannie smiles. “It’s good. Witty. Charming—“

“Yeah, I know. Delightful.” I just look at her.

She lays it on my bedside table.

That night at bedtime, I reach over a pick up the top book on my stack of 'to-reads'. Bookends. “Oh, well,” I sigh. “Let's give it a shot.”

I finished it today.

I know my guy card is in for another major hit, but, my goodness, people! This book was fantastic! I’ve never read a story penned with more wit, charm and—wait. Let me back up.

Ms. Higgs has got to have the most clever writing voice of just about anyone I’ve ever read. She snagged me in Bookends from the first chapter to the last as much with her writing style as with her characters and story line. How she was able to deliver the innermost thoughts of two so entirely different people—the Bookends—with such acute insight, pathos, and humor, is nothing less than a work of art.

Oh, yes. The story.

Bookend #1 is Emily Getz. Historian. PhD. Petite. Prim. Proper. Thirty-six years old. Inextricably immersed in an orderly, comfortable, predictable, safe life of academia from which she has no desire to come up for air—nor would she even know how to, if the desire were there.

Did I say “inextricably”?

Enter Bookend #2. Jonas Fielding, land and community developer. Cleverly brash, infuriatingly masculine, and playfully spontaneous. Mr. Fielding is a visionary who approaches his excavation of undeveloped land methodically, with exactness and unwavering purpose. The same Mr. Fielding decides to approach the extrication of drum-tight (and, in his estimation, undeveloped) Dr. Emily Getz in like manner.

Emile has returned home to Lititz, Pennsylvania, on a mission of the greatest personal and professional importance. Key to its success is a quarter-acre patch of ground under which she is certain rests a profoundly important archaeological artifact. Jonas has come to Lititz to develop a top-notch, professional-grade golf course in which both the community and he have invested a considerable amount of money. Key to its success is a quarter-acre patch of ground ideal for the all-important eighteenth green. You see where this is going, right?

Needless to say, Jonas’ intent to extricate Emile—along with his growing, albeit awkwardly expressed, love for the woman—collide with his intent to excavate that quarter-acre of ground. Emile’s intent to remain snuggled in her cozy academic cocoon—along with her own intentions for that patch of ground—collide with a growing, albeit stubbornly resisted, interest in Jonas. The result is a hilarious, poignant, and thought-provoking comedy of connects and disconnects, communications and miscommunications, that provokes out-loud laughter on one page and somber head-shaking on the next.

Ms. Higgs buffers her story delicately with the lives and influences of family and friends in and outside Lititz, each bringing their own strengths and weaknesses into Jonas’ and Emile’s blossoming relationship. You also learn loads about the Moravian Church community of Lancaster County in which the story basks. But mostly you learn a little more about life, love and the role faith plays in both of them.

Wow, I can’t recommend this enough! Great book, wonderful read. I’d even go so far as to say it’s witty, charming, and—(stop it!).


Four Lights For Him said...

I love Liz Curtis Higgs books!! I have actually picked this book up a couple of times at the bookstore only to read the first couple of pages while my sons play with the train set in the store; then I put it back because I have many other books to read. *Sigh* From what I have read I do hope to purchase this book some time in the future. :)

Bruce Judisch said...

Oh, Jennifer, ya gotta do that. It's really a gem. I've traded a couple e-mails with Ms. Higgs since my review. She's as neat as she comes across in her books.

Reading "Mixed Signals" soon, too.

Cheers! Bruce

Cindy said...

Bruce-thanks so much for your insightful reviews! I'm a fellow Oaktara writer myself and I take time to look at your blog every once in awhile. It's awesome that you are getting other authors books exposure and treating us to some new titles we might now otherwise have heard of. Thanks!
Cindy Wilson

Bruce Judisch said...

Hey, Cindy!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate the encouragement. When does your book come out? I look forward to seeing it.

Yup, this reviewing thing has gotten to be quite a hoot! I've met folks I would never otherwise have met. (Like you, for instance) :-)

I'll buzz over and take a look at your blog.

Cheers! Bruce

Four Lights For Him said...

Good morning Mr. Bruce,

I finished reading Bookends last night. Very cute book. Love Mrs. Higgs' sense of humor. :)

Bruce Judisch said...


Yup, good stuff! :-)

I just finished Mixed Signals, another one by Ms. Higgs, and will be reviewing it shortly.

Cheers! Bruce