Among other cultural treats, New Orleans is known for it’s soul-searching blues and palate-pleasing cuisine. Mary Arno expertly offers up her own literary version of heart-wrenching blues and delicious descriptions in her novel Thanksgiving. The story is sad yet satisfying, involving four adolescent acquaintances who harbor deep emotional secrets well into adulthood.
Arno is a skilled writer whose economy of words makes the book enjoyable to read and easy to digest. Just as impressive, the author has a well-honed ability to paint vivid images that mentally stimulate the senses. The road to the conclusion of the story is filled with surprising and at times shocking twists. But more than anything it leaves the reader glad they made the journey.
Thanksgiving by Mary Arno is as New Orleans as a book gets. The characters, scenes and stories (more about that) have that lush blend of flawed beauty and beautiful decay that evokes this amazing city. (BTW, if you haven't yet, you must visit New Orleans.) It's a quick read. The chapters are interconnecting stories -- a format I love. There's a mystery but not whodunnit style. Thanksgiving is many layered and yet the writing is so precise and masterful that a fat story is encompassed in the book's slim heft. I was trying to think of how to say the disparate elements of Thanksgiving coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts when the comparison to gumbo came to me. All those different ingredients come together into a feast for the palette. So it is with Thanksgiving. I feel sure Arno knows her gumbo as well as she does New Orleans.
Mary Arno has written a novel entitled THANKSGIVING. We here in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving as the day in which our early settlers gave thanks to God for being with them as they successfully embarked on a new life here. That is the tradition of Thanksgiving Day, and that is how we all know it. On a more personal note, I am noting in my book ONE YEAR - AND BEYOND that Thanksgiving Day is directed at God and all the goodness he gave us and is giving us in our lives (page 51). I also have a church bulletin with me that describes how to find God's will: 1) Worship God regularly, 2)Study your Bible daily, 3)Pray to God continually, 4)Share your life struggles with one or more people, 5)Tithe your income through the church, and 6)Look and listen for God in ordinary events of the day. In reading Mary Arno's book, I had to use item #6 quite a bit, given the Divine origin of Thanksgiving Day. In Chapters Nine and Ten, Thanksgiving is only mentioned, and on page 82, Emmaline wakes up to the television showing the Macy's Day parade, annually taking place on Thanksgiving Day and shown live on television that day. There is a chapter entitled "Thanksgiving" in the book, and some people appear for dinner, but the text does not mention Thanksgiving in that context. We can only surmise that God is among the people when they treat each other with kindness and respect. On a lighter matter, I enjoyed reading the beginning year, 1965, which was the year I came to the United States with my parents and younger brother. He left us in early 1970, and my parents retired in Germany in late 1977.
I loved reading this novel. They say: the devil's in the details. That being said it was the subtle descriptions of everyday life throughout the Greater New Orleans area that left me smiling as I read 'Thanksgiving'. Peg and Gabe rushing through Pirate's Alley as the Cabildo burned. The trinity being added to a roux as Mimi lamented her past. The descriptions of developing Kenner as Emmaline and Peg played detective. I loved it. I could relate to and envision the details as though I were there. This is a must read for New Orleans enthusiasts. If you're a former native and find yourself pining for The Big Easy you have but to open this novel and return home. Cheers!