DISCLOSURE: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
I recently joined a group on Facebook called Book Reviewers Workshop. It’s the brainchild of a member of another FB group I’m in, Women Writers, Women’s Books. And between these two groups, I will never be at a loss for recommendations of books to read and/or review. THE OVEN HOUSE is a book that was offered for review in the Book Reviewers Workshop that I kept scrolling back to.
I chose to read THE OVEN HOUSE because a) it looked interesting and b) it is short. Only 72 pages in PDF form. I can usually read that many pages in a day or two during my commute and I wanted a quick read in between some other reading and reviewing commitments I’d made.
I am typically a fan of really big, deep books. Mostly because I thought (notice my use of past tense here) that it took many, many pages to really develop the kinds of characters I was interested in, and the stories they had to tell. I stand corrected by Lynne Rees. Like a brilliantly talented sketch artist, using poetic language as her pencil, she deftly gives the reader a highly emotional and empathetic glimpse into the feelings of infatuation, guilt, grief and joy.
The book begins at the point of a broken heart and as it unfolds, details emerge on how this heartbreak came to pass, and the aftermath of that pain. While the story unfolds, though, we are also give a very intimate look into the mind and heart of a woman in love with one man and infatuated with another. And somehow, through that intimate look, it becomes comprehensible–the slippery slope that can lead from a casual flirtation into disrupting one’s entire existence. The key to all of this is, I think the writers’ ability to evoke imagery and emotion in a very few words. Take, for example, this passage in Chapter 1
“This feels too important to walk away from [,] is guaranteed to make her body grind with the sheer waste of what she thought they had, what they could have had, and if she can still manage to bear this and get through the night, then she might be able to get through the rest.”
There is a pace to the writing here that felt, as I was reading it, as though I were being hurtled across time by the words. I felt a sense of urgency that was particularly poignant to me.
It is moments like this, throughout the book, that give it a richness that belies how brief the book really is. Ms. Rees packs so much reflection and feeling into each page that, by the time the book finishes, it has felt as fulfilling as a book many times its length. Every word is carefully chosen to be exactly the right word, meaning exactly what the author wants to convey and leading the reader into the feelings of the moment.
And if you believe, as I did, that brief meant it wouldn’t take long to read, you’d be mistaken there, too. It doesn`t take days to read, but there is so much to process here that it is best savored, re-reading the sentences that touch you, and then moving on, rather than reading at a normal, casual pace.
I will be looking for more of this writers’ work in the future.