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The Thin Place: A Novel Hardcover – January 26, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Co. (January 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316735043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316735049
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Davis stretches relationships over centuries and species in this loopy follow-up to her historical, Versailles. When three schoolgirls come upon a seemingly dead neighbor, Mr. Banner, prostrate on the beach, he is revived by the uncanny spiritual powers of one of the girls, Mees Kipp, a strange fatherless waif who is also able to communicate with dogs. The narrative's point-of-view jumps among various characters (including a dog) as Davis explores the teeming, deceitful, hidden lives of the small church-going community and teases out its history via the journal of a late 19th-century schoolmarm who harbors a secret passion. (She perished with her pupils in what has become known as the Sunday School Outing Disaster; the 1870s tragedy still haunts the town.) Meanwhile, in the Crockett Home for the Aged, sharp-witted Helen Zeebrugge, at 92, simmers at the stupidity and condescension of her caretakers; her only son, Piet, in his vigorous 60s, is looking for wife number five and is tired of dating the athletic French teacher at the high school. With her eye on Piet, 50-ish divorcée Billie Carpenter, new to town and unattached, possesses the clarity to grasp the larger supernatural realignment that's taking place in Varennes, as evil (or senseless mortality) is replaced by a life-affirming force: love. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

In the opening pages of this brilliant, peculiar book, three small-town girls discover a man's corpse at the edge of a lake, and one of them, Mees Kipp, mysteriously brings him back to life. Davis writes hallucinatory, literate prose, and adopts a cosmic perspective: she is concerned with nothing less than describing the town's every waking moment. The experiences of Mees's dog, trotting through a clearing that smells of porcupine, stand alongside those of a minister's wife reading her morning paper and "confronting whatever form the devil had chosen to assume overnight." In any other book, a magical resurrection would be a central event; for Davis, it's just another moment in a particular place.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker

Customer Reviews

I am almost halfway through and I just cannot keep reading.
S. Collins
THE THIN PLACE is almost overwhelmed by minutiae, and at times the overall story seems to get lost in the details.
Deborah Wiley
I heartily recommend this book to anyone (even if they don't have a cold).
C. Wilhelm

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on January 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kathryn Davis is a new author to me. Critically recognized for some of her other work, Davis has somehow managed to stay in the popular shadows of fiction. Now, with the publication of her sixth book, The Thin Place, hopefully this will drag her into the light of being well known, inventive, and incredibly literate.

This book tells the tale of the citizens of Varennes, a little town close to the Canadian border, who are also closely connected by little silver threads of desire, envy, anger, greed, love, lust, and growth. It starts with three girls finding a body on the beach, and one of the girls striving for the miraculous and bringing the man back to life. Over the pages we meet an elderly lady living in a retirement home, her son who jumps from marriage to marriage because he loves women, another woman who restores books, one who ushers in church, a teacher who is putting on a play for his students which brings us back to the girls.

The Thin Place is by no means an easy novel or a quick read. It demands your attention from the first page, and should anything wrestle your focus away for even a moment, you find yourself lost. Partially this is due to Davis' incredible fluid writing style. One might liken it to a stream running over your page, as attention shifts about in a scene much as if a camera would in filming erratically. It's in this fluidity that the beauty of Davis' prose rests. She doesn't ignore the meager nor the less-important, everything gets a voice in her writing; from dogs, to beaver, to lichen to the ice sheets moving over the earth in its great sculpting array.

Much of this reminds me of Whitman and his poetry. As he strove to encompass all around him in his verse, Davis strives to encompass all in her paragraphs.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on January 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Rarely does a book come out that silences and humbles the reader. The Thin Place is one of this select few. By weaving the metaphysical, religious and philosophical search for meaning into the characters of a common, typical town, Kathryn Davis is able to take the reader with her on a quest for understanding. No aspect of creation is too minute, its role too trivial for notice as part of the world around us, a world we may not really see, a life we not really feel.

The Thin Place is a town like every other town in the world, full of people, animals, plant life and death. The small town of Verennes is home to schoolteachers and book binders, elderly ladies and young girls, bankers and reverends. Animals run throughout the town, escaping together to explore, protect and disappear--family pets and the wild ones. Pansies and the peonies grow there as does the lichen that flourishes as it has for thousands of years. The young can bring back the dead while the elderly can only watch.

Mees and friends since kindergarten are teetering on the edge of teen years. Lorne is the child forever looking for a home. Sunny is the pretty one, the good one, the boss of all. "Three girls, arms linked, shadows misleadingly alike." Only Mees can bring resurrection, a gift that seems timeless but one that can be lost forever in the tumor of evil. In an ending that both satisfies and surprises, Mees' talent proves to be uncontrollable and unreliable as virtue clashes with sin.

Kathryn Davis' extraordinary novel gives voice to the creation of the world, its progress and its potential ending. She creates the threads that follow the events of the past as they unravel into our present and our future.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By JET VINE VOICE on June 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The premise of the story has been summarized by other reviewers, so I won't take the time to do it here, but I will note that I bought this book after reading a review, thinking that it was going to be more focused on the supernatural, the review leading me to think that the focus was the "thin place," the division between this world and the next that is thinner in Varennes than in other places. I envisioned ghosts or magical realism, of sorts. In short, this book was not what I expected.

That being said, there is an element of the supernatural in this book, but only one element. The whole of the book is based firmly and viscerally in reality. Davis has an extremely keen ability at description and fluid prose, one of the best I've read, and I often found myself delighted by the aptness of her descriptions, putting into words ideas that have fleetingly crossed my mind (like the description of dogs' heads smelling of popcorn).

Other reviewers, and friends of mine that have read the book, have found it confusing, or difficult to stick with. I disagree - although there are many characters, and the prose deviates regularly from the plot (i.e., the daily lives of the town's residents, and how their paths ultimately cross) to describe the thoughts of beavers, moose, lichen, or to meditate on the creation of the world, or to jump back to medieval times to explore events of the Bible - it was easy to form a picture of the place, to differentiate the characters, and to understand the prevailing themes of interconnectedness and transience.

For some, this will be the story of a town and its residents. For others, this will be a religious novel, while others will find it a philosophical journey. Whatever the book is to each reader, I know that it will be unlike anything you have read before, and you will get something out of it, IF you open your mind and let yourself be swept away with the current of the story.
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