In Eventide, the second book in the Plainsong trilogy, we meet some of the same characters and a few more from the community of Holt, Colarado. There are again the quiet observations of the lives of people in this town, seeing them from the inside, the different challenges they each face and how they cope (or not) with them.
There’s that trademark humour that creates a number of laugh out loud moments, for which we are grateful. Because some of it is sad, realistic and may bring tears.
There’s a small boy named DJ who lives with his elderly grandfather Walter Kephart, DJ makes supper for his grandfather every evening and befriends two girls who live next door, in particular Dena. He cleans the yard and works on the vege garden for their mother Mary Wells. Their father is working in Alaska and returns rarely. And then not at all.
We again meet the McPheron brothers Raymond and Harold and the girl Victoria who has been living with them since she became pregnant. Now she has a little girl Katie and is about to move into an apartment and resume college studies.
It is a challenging transition for all of them, as they have become used to each other and the brothers have become much more perceptive about themselves and their “like a daughter” Victoria. She calls one night, for no particular reason and they discuss afterwards the things she didn’t say.
The way she sounded. The way her voice was.
No, it wasn’t money that made her voice sound that way. It was the rest of it too.
Well, I reckon she’s kind of lonesome, Raymond said. I’m going to say she kind of misses being here.
I guess maybe she does, said Harold.
Rose Tyler is a social worker and through her, we meet a loving but vulnerable family, a couple with special needs, struggling to raise two children, while finding several aspects of their lives difficult to manage. Their story is painful to read as they become prey to a predatory relative whom they are unable to eject from their lives and will be judged for.
And though each family has it’s struggles and hardships, somehow people’s paths cross and sometimes good wins over bad, a closed heart opens, someone is in a position to be there for another just at the right moment, even when they don’t have the words.
Beside her Guthrie stood watching the old man. He wanted to think of words that would make some difference but there were none in any language he knew that were sufficient to the moment or that would change a single thing. They stayed quite for some time.
And an old man who has never done it before, learns to dance and find joy once again.
She moved backward and he followed her. She backed again and he stayed with her, moving slowly. Can you hear the beat? she said.
No ma’am. I can’t think about that and not step on you at the same time.
I recognised that feeling about halfway into Eventide of becoming completely enamoured and invested in the characters, wanting the best for them, feeling afraid for them. In their own small worlds they struggled separately, not knowing, but discovering that part of the solution to their moving out of one state and towards an improved one was about making that connection with others, being open to the kindness of people, finding those who were genuine in that offering, being prepared to take that risk.
Beautifully written, incredibly moving, a wonderful book.
My review of Book One Plainsong