Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Book Review: One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer
A selection for the book club at my local library (Crystal Lake Public Library) that I read later on my own to catch up (orig. they read it for 4/2010). I enjoyed this book thoroughly! The main character Sarah is a bit of a Smart Alec and is going through some interesting middle-age issues: a loss of a not-so-loved relative, an impending separation/divorce?, and reconnecting with a quirky and fun relative, her aunt Edna, who only paints chairs. I enjoyed thinking about how simple objects like chairs can reveal so much if we examine them more closely, and the connection between the women in the novel despite their different personalities.
The main premise of the story is that Sarah's grandma has died, the crotchety and unpleasant matriarch of the family, who Edna cared for through a long and vague illness, and now Sarah has decided to stay with her aunt who becomes a sort of guru to her and cope with her husband's infidelity. Sarah is an overweight and unhappy but successful designer of kitschy Christmas ornaments, while Edna is an unmarried school cafeteria worker who is obsessed with painting empty chairs. The two are put together by the strange request of the grandma who wanted her ashes scattered in Scotland, even though she only saw pictures of the country in a book. It is quirky, odd, very funny, and sincerely an enjoyable read! I recommend this book to lovers of fiction who like a good laugh, cry, and introspection all at the same time!
And so it goes...