Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Guest Review : The Rockin' Chair - Steven Manchester

Today's review written by Margitte is an American Family Saga novel titled "The Rockin' Chair".
Review: The Rockin' Chair - Steven Manchester - June 2013

It is not a genre I normally read, but something about the title and the cover design prompted me to read this book. The cover reminded me so much of my childhood, visiting my grandmother on her farm; the old porch where we used to sit, she peeling and slicing fruit for bottling, telling me stories of the family and her childhood. I was too young to remember who finally took her rockin' chair when she passed away, but it never bothered me. I had so much rich and beautiful memories whenever I encountered a rockin' chair ever since.

This family saga of the old gentleman, John McCarthy and his family pulled me into the American way of rural life which we often see in movies, but seldom read in books. The characters in the book were so familiar as though I knew them all my life, yet so very American in their values, talk and outlook on life. Decent, honest folks who were paternally lead and protected by a grandpa who also wrote a diary.

The writing style, the story elements, the characters...everything, gripped me from the first sentence before I even knew what the story would be about. I only knew I wanted to learn the story behind that rockin' chair on that porch and I was determined to hear it!

It was as though the author knew where to get to me. He went straight for the heart and left me sitting in total wonderment on how it was done.

Who would not react emotionally when a simple, decent, proud man writes these words:"I've had dreams of Alice calling me home and I reckon my time is close. But I'd leaved a pig-headed fool without makin' a few things clear. I reckon I've lived a life most men could only hope for. I had folks that taught me right. I found a woman that loved me right. I worked a farm that treated me right. But none of it ever added up to the love I had for my boy, Hank. Even if I owned words fancy enough, I couldn't start to say how much I love that stubborn boy."

The symbolism in the Rockin' chair is strong enough to have everyone reading this book yearn for family we never knew, or who passed away, or for opportunities we wished we had treasured. We would all agree that those rockin' chairs was more than just a few pieces of wood that made up a useful piece of furniture! It really rocked for a special reason. They all have stories to tell.

This Rockin' Chair had me in tears - of memory but also of joy. I felt so part of this family in which the challenges of a tough life, misunderstandings, and hardship did not leave much room for emotions such as love and appreciation. Yet it does not mean it did not exist.

It is a brilliant book in so many ways. It is a book that men should read just as eagerly as women. There is a lot to contemplate and a lot of our own changed values to weigh against the message this book leaves behind. In the end I needed to ask myself: and how do you measure up, girl?

Five stars for everything, grampa John!



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