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on 20 January 2002
This novel is not just a straightforward murder-mystery. There are several themes which distinguish it from this genre.
First, it takes the reader into the world of a nursing home, albeit of the American variety, which may be new territory for many people. As an experienced registered nurse working in a hospice, this world is fairly familiar to me; the sick, the dying, the confused, the frightened are people I meet every working day. As such, there were issues I could identify with.
A disturbing issue is that of a nurse performing fellatio on a patient. As I read it, I experienced a whole range of emotions simultaneously; shock, disgust, anger, sympathy, empathy, understanding. Then, I questioned each of these emotions. This book forced me to confront my own humanity (again) and sexuality (again). This nurse was wrong to do what she did; probably in real life would have been struck off and hit the headlines. Yet, she gave something else to Stephen (the patient) apart from his first sexual experience (a gift in itself, I guess - though I'm struggling to get past the ethics to acknowledge that). As nurses, we are told constantly to remain objective, not get involved, remain professional (which can sometimes cause a lot of conflict with being human as well). She gave him her humanity; she was a person to him as much as he was a person to her. There's so much more in this than just sex.
There's the issue of power; in all its different guises. There's religion, though, thankfully not overdone; there's spirituality, represented in a wonderfully positive light. There's a miracle; the "aide", Peggy, is transformed as a result of the events, from an immature, uncaring nightmare member of staff, to an open-minded, willing to learn and understand sort of person all nursing homes, hospitals and hospices need.
If I was a nurse tutor, I'd put this book on the essential reading list and set an essay on some of the themes.
It's fantastic and I'm so thankful to my boyfriend's mum for lending it to me. Now, I need my own copy and I'll be recommending it to my friends and colleagues.
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on 15 March 1997
Scott Peck has turned his hand to fiction with this surprisingly satisfying tale of love and emotion set in a nursing home. Many of us think of nursing homes as emotionally gray places, where human passions have gone out and hope and longing now revolve around next Sunday's visiting hours and the next meal. Well, not so the Willow Glen. The most improbable people fall in love, and their passions become all the keener because they have time to focus on each other.

To quote Madeleine L'Engle's review on the book jacket, "The reader truly cares about the characters, and it is wonderful to see the growing into fullness of some of them." Stephen Solaris, a 29-year-old cerebral palsy victim unable even to speak, becomes the emotional center of Willow Glen. Free of the distractions of daily existence, he has developed a deep inner life and an ability to communicate without words. Other characters are drawn into his orbit: nurse Heather Barsten, psychotherapist Stasz Kolnietz, the old lovers Marion Grochowski and Tim O'Hara, and a full cast of nursing home residents and attendants.

Although it starts as a novel of character, A Bed by the Window becomes a murder mystery. Willow Glen is torn apart by a brutal murder that shakes every character. It's a page-turner, both for the major mystery (Who in this place would kill - or even could?) and the subplots (Will Tim O'Hara's blocked arteries hold up till the end of the book? Will Heather stop loving losers and find a nice man?)

But the book rises and falls on its characters. Scott Peck has created characters the reader cares about. Although they sometimes approach stereotypes, his characters have an "Everyman" feel that makes you care rather than detach. Long after I first read the book, I remembered each character in detail - and that's one criterion of good fiction, isn't it?
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on 23 October 2011
This was such a good book! It provides insights about disability and the needs of the disabled. It also warns us not to make assumptions based on our impressions of what we see with our eyes. It is also about love and about how different people experience love in different ways, and what is obviously loveable for one person is not obviously loveable by another. Most of all, because I like crime stories, this book points out that the criminal can be anyone, and guilt is not to be attributed to whoever looks guilty. I feel that this was one of the best books I ever read.
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on 26 August 1998
This book was terrific. I found myself knowing each of the characters in a way that most fiction writers are never able to do. The use of wisdom and the method of delivery was interesting and spell binding. I was sad it ended. I could have gone on forever.
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on 22 May 2013
Although the theme was a good one and I had high hopes, I felt the writing was clumsy and at times it felt patronising to older people and people with disabilities even though it was clearly not the author's intention. It didn't feel as if he'd thought through enough how to be straightforward and honest on the character's behalf without the narrative coming across as insulting, rather than it being some of the character's prejudices which obviously needed to be stated. I didn't like the good and evil dualism. The writer didn't have the skill to present the complexity of how damaged human beings can be driven to cause terrible harm, even if that was his intention. It felt sentimental rather than heartfelt and transformational. The only thing that kept me going was wanting to know 'who dunnit' and that was a sort of stubborn endurance on my part, rather than being truly gripped by the mystery. I think it fell between two stools ; neither an edge of your seat thriller, nor a truly inspiring book about redemption and healing. I know those things were touched on. I liked the intentions and the idea of people being transformed and having their prejudices challenged and the journey of healing but I'm so sorry, it didn't feel convincing somehow.
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on 11 September 2014
The book is very well written. It has a good plot but is a bit 'cheesy' in places. It helps one to identify psychological theories in 'real-life' settings. Unfortunately the sexual senarios, while helping dispel 'stereotyping', does conflict with the Christian overtones entwined within the lives of the book's characters.
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on 4 September 2014
A complex and engaging book that reflects the themes in the road less travelled.
It was challenging and comforting to see the issues wrestled with by the characters.
The strand of grace running through the struggles is warm and the relationships show compassion.
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on 22 November 1998
M. Scott Peck is an excellent writer. I just finished listening to this book on an audio cassette. It was just great - I have to go out and buy the book because the abridged version was magnificent - - I can only imagine how rich the unabridged book must be!!! Five Stars!
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on 22 October 2015
rating speaks for itself
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on 30 November 2016
Good job
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