I’m having a difficult time deciding what to rate this book. One of the young married ladies from church recommended it.
I struggled with it. Really struggled. In the beginning the writing felt pretentious. I almost quit. The Wikipedia article really helped me decide to continue. The Pilgrim was very into watching nature, and — though I’ve become more interested over recent years — I don’t tend to be. The subject matter didn’t appeal to me and occasionally dragged. She focuses a lot – a *lot* – on death in nature. There were whole days when I just couldn’t face reading the book.
But I finished. And I’m glad I did. Not solely because I’m done with it, rather because Dillard had something to say about life, death, faith, and existence. It all tied together in the end.
I understand why some readers absolutely love the writing; there were portions that I found strikingly beautiful. I understand why some readers find it boring as all get out. She stretches her vocabulary as far as it will go. At times, I think she’s over-writing – using big words for the purpose of big words. At times, it’s worthwhile. The book is dated in parts – the flood from Hurricane Agnes in the 1970s is featured – but not so dated that the reader is confused. It is up to date talking about issues of being and nature sometimes in roundabout ways.
I have come to the conclusion that this book, more than most, improves upon multiple readings. Maybe even requires them. Each time I skimmed back through at the places I’ve marked (to choose a quote for the week …) there’s more depth, more understanding to the reading.
Brandy asked me if she should be looking for a copy. I’m at a loss for what to tell her. The library was a perfect way for me to try it out. I can imagine wishing to go back through it another time … at least skimming it.
I posted some quotes to my blog.
I still don’t know how many stars to give it. I can’t say I liked the book. It was objectively well written. I’m not disappointed to have read the book. It was an accomplishment of determination to finish. Overall, I think it was well worth my time and struggle and may be so again. It will never be my favorite book, but I appreciate it. I might even try some of her other books.