I'm not sure how else to say it but this way -- I really, really didn't want this one to end.
Scheduled for release in February of 2011, Liz Michalski's debut novel, Evenfall is quite a story, and one I intentionally slowed down in my reading towards the end because I really didn't want to commit to the fact that all stories have to end. I'm so happy that I picked this one up at the SIBA Trade Show last month.
Each chapter of Evenfall takes a third-person point-of-view of three important people: Andie, Frank, and Gert, living on beautiful land in Connecticut called Evenfall. It's land that has been owned for a couple hundred years by one family, and at one time, it was the talk of the town with money galore. But over the past fifty years or so, it's been hard farmland to work, and it's now become simply just a home with work to be done.
The characters are...
Andie is the young woman who's just returned from Italy -- she's caught her oh-so charming boyfriend with another, and it's time to get away. Her Aunt Clara has already passed, and now so has her Uncle Frank. It's time for her to come to Evenfall to help Aunt Gert clean it up to possibly sell. She has no bond with her own father, who dropped her off at a boarding school each fall when she was a kid, and then dropped her off at Evenfall each summer. She's been lucky to have her two aunts and uncle to give her a sense of family. And although this summer will be a hard one filled with memories that jump out from every room of the old house that will be looked at by real estate investors, she's especially unprepared for the young boy she once babysat who has now grown into quite a capable young man. A break from men and life's decisions she will not get.
Aunt Gert, nearing eighty, has spent a lifetime as a take-charge nurse who also served in WWII -- she's not a woman to be messed with. Aunt Gert has lived on the land in a small cottage since Andie was a kid, while the love of her life, Frank, was married to her sister, and living in the main house just a short walk away. I could imagine that feeling and how difficult it must have been for Gert. It's built her toughness to the point when it's not often anyone or anything can really crack it.
And Frank. Frank may have been my favorite character, but it's hard to say since I enjoyed each one. He's now dead, but he's certainly not gone, and he hovers about the house, having the ability to move from place to place simply by thinking about it. Gert is really the one he was always meant to be with, but bad timing and perhaps the subtle thought that there was always time, kept him from making the right choice. Regret can almost feel like its own character, and in Evenfall, the weight of its presence was felt through every page. Frank, though, is not ready to have it be part of him any more -- he's going to make it right, and sometimes he can project his presence to the point where Gert can feel him around her. It's not the time anymore for him to just sit back and let time slide by.
Evenfall is genuine. Every character had its own peculiarity and distinct personality that it never once felt jarring when the point of view switched from chapter to chapter as it sometimes can in other stories. Their actions were real and organic to who they ultimately were. Even the movements and thoughts of Frank's ghost were written so authentically that I felt confident that this truly would be what a ghost would be able to do, to think, to feel, in their afterlife.
I felt surrounded by so many things as I read this. Enveloped by the humid richness of the New England summer, the descriptions of farmland, peaches, and the setting sun so real I could see it before me. And reminder. Regret makes an incredible story, as Liz Michalski does with Evenfall, but it certainly does not make a good life. I was reminded to enjoy the moment, to see what was before me, and to not just pay attention to what, but most especially to whom.
Liz Michalski has effortlessly crafted a story that resonates about love and life, and how strong longing can be in the afterlife. What's right is always right, and it doesn't matter when it happens, but making the effort to make it right is a lot better than living a lifetime of regret.
This comes out in February - I envision book clubs really enjoying this one. And especially good for anyone on a rainy day.
Visit Liz Michalski's blog by clicking here.
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