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The Damnable Legacy Kindle Edition
|Length: 347 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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Top Customer Reviews
I'm not too proud to admit that I judged this book by its cover. I was hooked by the majestic purple mountains and decided to read the audition piece solely based on its beauty.
Never have I read a 3-5 minute audition piece and then immediately purchased the book. I've done that with plays, but small snippets of novels rarely carry enough weight to warrant a high level of excitement. However, that is precisely what I did after being dropped into Beth's world over halfway through the novel. It was a dense passage, ripe with clues about the many lives threaded into this story. I was immediately invested in Beth, Ryan, and Lynn's lives and had to know more.
I don't want to give too much away, but the symbolic objects used and the act of climbing as ritual is so beautiful and makes you remember there are many ways to pray and memorialize. (This is especially profound for those of us who have faded away from more organized religious practices.) The language leads the reader's imagination in a way that makes you wonder if the author spends countless hours meditating on the characters and settings to produce such an effect, or is simply gifted beyond the typical craft of storytelling. Her technique is deceptively simple, which I believe is why it is so powerful.
I stopped numerous times thinking, "That is the perfect way to describe such a thing. I know exactly what she means!"
Beth is an active and engaging narrator. You forget she is a helpless, trapped observer, because she isn't merely narrating. You feel her struggle and tension, but she is part of the scenes and it often feels as though she is part of the dialogue.
While I was wrapped up in this world, the narrator contract went to someone else. I spent too much time engrossed in the story to get my audition recorded in time! However, I do not regret missing the boat on this one, because I've discovered my new favorite author in the process. Excited for her next novel, which I've read is set in Yellowstone.
G. Elizabeth Kretchmer brings the embittered lives of these characters together by using the roaming spirit of Ryan’s deceased wife, Beth, as the narrator—a bold move of the variety that usually feels gimmicky for this hard-sell reader. But Beth is no all-seeing angel narrator who has found peace and perfection in the afterlife and protects those she watches over. She is limited temporally, able to see only one loved one at a time, as well as in her ability to intervene—whatever she set in motion in life, she must simply observe now; and still with very human emotions, like jealousy, pettiness, guilt, pride, and affection, Beth adds a rich layer—or rather, in keeping with the braided format, she is both the hands that skillfully tuck, tug, and weave the stories for the reader and the fourth strand of this complex novel. Her plan to bring Ryan, Lyn, and Frankie together—three people she has loved in both life and after life—was made in an effort to bring healing to them, yes, but also to herself.
Kretchmer's beautiful descriptions of both Oregon and Alaska; her suspenseful and detailed telling of a perilous climbing expedition; and her poignant capturing of the bonds and moments that make family and home -- all of this makes The Damnable Legacy a moving and enjoyable read.
I loved it for a different reason: its narrator. Beth Mahoney, the wife of a pastor, dead too early of cancer and now speaking from the afterlife, watches a bizarre plan play out. While dying she arranged for her widowed husband, Ryan, to join a climbing party led by Lynn, for whom Denali is the last of seven mountains she promised to climb when she gave her baby up for adoption decades ago.
Beth and Ryan know where Lynn's daughter and granddaughter have landed. The granddaughter, Frankie, is in trouble, and her mother is too compromised by drugs and prostitution to help. In spite of Frankie's petty crimes and unresponsiveness, she is an endearing character. Readers hope, as Beth does, that Ryan and Lynn will get close enough to stumble across the fact that they have Frankie in common. As it turns out, at least as far as Beth is concerned, Ryan and Lynn get a little too close.
Beth's narrative voice is what makes this book so unusual. She is a straightforward but also thoughtful witness and story teller. She can't enter into the other characters' minds, but she knows some of them well and can pay careful attention to what the others do. We trust her judgment. Having never shared her husband's beliefs, she thinks a lot about fate and whether it can be controlled. She must deal with panic and disappointment when events slip out of her control.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
: G. Elizabeth Kretchmer
A pair of parallel stories that intertwine and weave into a tale that is different from any other I've read/ listened...Read more
A: G.Read more
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