Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Robert Elmer's The Recital~Reviewed

The Recital
By Robert Elmer
Published by WaterBrook Press, June 20, 2006
ISBN 140007164X

Gerrit and Joan discovered the beauty of second chances when they fell in love. But life isn't "happily ever after" when the widowed dairy farmer and big-city piano teacher get married. When they move to Chicago to pursue a teaching opportunity for Joan, Gerrit the country boy must find new purpose in an unfamiliar urban world. It's not an easy change for him, but his friendship with Zhao, a visiting Chinese musician, begins to give him a new sense of purpose. Meanwhile, Joan tries to accept her husband for who he is, even as she finds her place as a music professor in this clash between small-town values and big-city ways.

In this poignant sequel to The Duet, Gerrit and Joan explore the difficult questions of relationships as they redefine the meaning of love and home and learn painful lessons about mutual sacrifice.

The Baby Boomer generation is changing the definition of retirement. Younger at heart than their parents at the same age, fifty is the new thirty, and love can be just as exciting the second time around. And it comes with its own set of difficulties, including new careers.

Robert Elmer serves up a love story with a side helping of humor in this delightful tale of a second marriage as Gerrit and Joan explore their differences and similarities. I laughed at their "mixed marriage" discussions, comparing his Dutch Reformed to her fundamentalist Nazarene as they lobbed scripture-grenades at each other.

But I was most impressed by Elmer's deep understanding of Joan and her psyche. There wasn't a moment in this novel where I didn't believe her thoughts and feelings. His distinct voice for each character remained true throughout the book. His characters are flawed, real people who will steal your heart as they put off their pasts and go forward, often with disastrous results.

I didn't read The Duet, and I'll go back and do so, but it's not necessary to fully enjoy this book. Funny and tender, this is a definite recommended read.

Reviewed by Ane Mulligan

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