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on 8 April 2013
This is a novel where very little happens. There are no wars, no gunfights, no sex scenes, no murders or robberies or explosions, physical or emotional. But there is a quiet summer afternoon swimming in the water tower. There is the hesitant farewell visit by old employees of Dad's store. There are church services, temporarily lost children, disappointed faces. There are women and men, all equally well-drawn, all equally created with sensitivity, wisdom and humour. This is a novel of real lives truly lived in a fictional America which is more real in the consciousness of Americans than the one that really does exist. I think of Haruf's novels as portrayals of the tranquil majesty of regular lives. There is such truth in his voice, such beauty in his words that I find myself getting quite emotional just thinking about it.

Benediction completes a trilogy which is, I believe, one of the great creations of contemporary American fiction. I don't think there's much more I can say about it than that.
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on 15 November 2016
As other reviewers have pointed out, this is the third book in the Plainsong series only in the sense that it is set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado. Time has moved on, and there is only the briefest mention of characters from the previous two books. However, don't let that put you off. If anything, I enjoyed this book more than the other two, if enjoy is the right way to describe a book about a man dying of cancer. Again, don't let that put you off. I found this a beautifully written and ultimately heart-warming tale. As well as describing the final weeks in the life of Dad Lewis, owner of the local hardware store, it also goes back into past events that have shaped his life and the lives of family members, friends and neighbours. Sad, yes, but not without humour and brimming over with wisdom.
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on 9 October 2016
A good read ,one gets to know the characters,and become interested in their lives
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on 20 July 2017
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on 16 July 2017
I've enjoyed this trilogy and the people and town of Holt created by Kent Haruf his way of describing their story and lives will stay with me ...brilliant brilliant writing
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 27 February 2014
In this one particular long, hot summer in Holt, Colorado, this novel tells of seventy seven year old Dad Lewis who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Looked after tenderly by his adoring wife and loyal daughter this novel reveals his thoughts, regrets, heartbreak and memories of his life, in particular his estrangement from his gay son who left home as soon as he possibly could and whom his family hasn’t seen for years, so great was the family rift. Ghosts from his past also visit his dreams as he searches for resolutions and peace from past mistakes and decisions he has lived to regret.

He endures visits from neighbours, friends, his employees, the local pastor, the hospice nurse; all gathering around his deathbed to offer their support, affection, compassion, goodbyes and friendship. But, although the subject of impending death is unquestionably sad, this novel rises above that, and, by the addition of other new characters, examines the joy and hope that Daisy, the young grandchild of Dad Lewis’ neighbour brings to the wider community with her fresh young experiences. Another character new to the neighbourhood is Reverend Rob Lyle, who has a crisis within his ministry and is also dealing with a very troubled son and deeply unhappy wife, whilst experiencing problems within his congregation. Humour is injected into scenes as well, which lightens such a dark and sad story.

This is the third and final novel in the evocative and wonderful Plainsong trilogy.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
In Holt, Colorado, 77 year old hardware store owner Dad Lewis is dying. Now is the time for final visits to local places that mean so much to him; a time to reconsider key moments in his life, a time to ensure all is sorted. A time too for regrets, hallucinations increasing as the end draws near. Loyal wife Mary, herself frail, tends his needs, as does daughter Lorraine. Neighbours rally round. Noticeably absent is estranged son Frank. Exactly what happened all those years ago?

So many characters are vividly portrayed with words used sparingly, their lives and aspirations laid bare. Amongst them is preacher Lyle, himself at a turning point. Congregations have been outraged when reminded what Christ's teaching means in practical terms. They want rid.

I know nothing of Kent Haruf's earlier work, an omission clearly needing to be remedied. Here is a tale evocatively told and hauntingly sad, the style direct and totally involving. We are intimately present at a dying and a death - only to be reminded that this, at the time so important, is but a very minor matter in the overall scheme of things.

The ordinary has been pinpointed and elevated into something special.
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on 4 April 2017
I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first two in the series.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 February 2016
Holt, Colorado, is a very ordinary little town invented by Haruf for the setting of his three novels Plainsong, Eventide and Benediction. It’s the kind of sleepy, unattractive little place that we have all read about in literature and seen portrayed in endless films; the kind of place, in real life, you just couldn’t wait to get away from. And yet, this is what makes Haruf’s work so exceptional. He has the ability to make the ordinary into something completely extraordinary and creates a fictional place that you just can’t wait to get back to.

Benediction tells the story of one long, hot summer in Holt, when Dad Lewis returns from hospital with terminal cancer. He has come home to die which he duly does at the end of the novel. That’s it. That’s the story and yet I don’t think I’ve read anything recently that kept me so avidly turning the pages. Alongside the very sad story of Dad’s decline there are sub-plots which are completely uplifting, for example Dad’s next door neighbour takes in Alice, her orphaned eight-year-old granddaughter, and the rather shell-shocked child gradually grows in confidence as she is befriended by a group of older women.

Haruf’s characters are uncompromisingly true to life. These are the folk you might expect to meet in typical small town America – conventional and small-minded with a tough outlook born of poverty and grinding hard work. Even the central character, Dad Lewis, upright citizen though he may be, is not likeable. His uncompromising moral standards have caused him to sack an employee who stole money from him, leading ultimately to the man’s suicide and his wife and children facing a life of desperate poverty. He has also alienated his son because he cannot cope with the fact that his offspring is homosexual. And yet, in all Hanuf’s characters, there are such flashes of courage and compassion that you are left feeling optimistic rather than depressed by the state of mankind. Dad Lewis, in penance for his over-hasty judgement, financially supports his ex-employee’s wife and children for years. The same folk who turn their back on Reverend Lyle for preaching that the United States should “turn the other cheek” instead of going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, turn out en masse to hunt for a missing child. I don’t know if Haruf intends to return to Holt in a later work but I choose to see hope in the fact that he has left so many questions unanswered about Reverend Lyle. Hanuf makes you care about his characters, despite their flaws and I, for one, want to go back there to find out how life works out for Alice as she grows up and whether Lorraine does take over the hardware store.

Haruf’s style of writing is deceptively simple; he uses no imagery and his characters’ conversation is plain and natural, the ordinariness emphasised by the lack of quotation marks. This simplicity of style serves to make even more memorable certain scenes, such as the women’s baptism-like skinny dipping in the cattle’s stock tank or the terrifying account of the minister’s son attempting to hang himself. These are dramatic scenes, loaded with symbolic significance but it is Hanuf’s accounts of very ordinary events that make his work so powerful. Reverend Lyle goes out wandering the town looking for what he calls “the precious ordinary” in the lives of the townspeople of Holt and, at the end of the novel, the reader is left with a sense of being given an exceptional gift in being allowed access to their unexceptional lives.
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on 26 November 2015
Benediction is the third volume in Kent Haruf's trilogy set in the rural American community of Holt. I loved reading the first two books, Plainsong and Eventide, so had high hopes for Benediction - hopes which were not disappointed.

Benediction is set some years later so characters that had previously taken centre stage have moved on or passed on. Instead we spend our time with an older man, hardware store owner Dad Lewis, who is dying from cancer, his family, neighbours and staff. I think that this was definitely the most melancholy of the trilogy and not just because of its cancer storyline, but also due to a very real sense of Holt changing as a town. References to America being at war again and the Reverend's disastrous 'turn the other cheek' sermon were particularly poignant and timely given the ISIS Paris attacks last week and many hate-filled reactions I have seen to it.

Haruf was one of the best observational writers I have read. His creation of ordinary people is superb and I love the way he makes the minutiae of their daily lives interesting and important. At one point, Reverend Lyle says that he just wanted to see 'the precious ordinary' and that quote completely sums up Benediction for me.
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