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Self-deception, bereavement, priests and Richard Gere
on 5 May 2014
"You are my confidant, Richard Gere, and I'm not about to share my pretending with anyone, because pretending often ends when you allow nonpretenders access to the better, safer worlds you create for yourself."
Never before have you read a book of letters to the Pretty Woman star. It's a well-used idea, breathes life into the past tense narrative, gives a new slant on things.
And as the quote above suggests, this is a novel about self-deception. The protagonist is well aware that he is deceiving himself in writing to the film star. But he doesn't really care. Nearing 40, having always lived in close companionship with his mother, he is ill-equipped for his life after her death from cancer. Soon after, their family priest defrock himself publicly and knocks on the door, moving in with Bartholemew. He is happy to have the companionship and guidance, even if he doesn't quite understand why Father McNamee has taken an interest. Painfully awkward and shy, can he summon up the courage to speak to the 'Girlbrarian' he's fallen in love with at the library?
And other people Bartholomew meets all have their own hidden pasts. May all be deceiving themselves. Our letter-writer may know he's a little naive, protected, but he does seem through the novel to be able to see his acquaintances' lives more clearly than they are able to.
The Richard Gere angle worked for me because it explored the self-deception aspect - and not just Bartholemew's. His mother, at the end, confuses her son with Richard to the point where fantasy and reality blur for them both. Is it a coping mechanism? Cancer? Delusion? Pretend? You finish the novel and look back after the revelations with clarity and more questions.
I like letter/diary-style books, I like how the protagonist can talk directly to the reader, and also how they can be unreliable as a narrator. It makes it more interesting, keeps you thinking.
I wasn't sure what I thought of the ending though, a little too nearly parcelled up. And the whole idea behind the title: the good luck of right now basically meaning 'fate', sometimes I can just accept that concept for the sake of the story, but at times it annoyed me that Bartholomew saw things as meaningfully connected. But that's just me.
I imagine this will be made into another successful film, like its predecessor. If you liked The Silver Linings Playbook, you'll most Iikely enjoy this as well. Some similarities of protagonist and theme, and you can get carried away into the story.