Review: A Curious Earth by Gerard Woodward

As I mentioned in this review, I have been blessed with many books from publishers and authors, so many that I can’t read them fast enough.  My wonderful book club friend and guest blogger, Elaine, was kind enough to read and review three of them for me.  Here is her 3rd review for Books on the Brain:

Aldous Jones is an old man, a widower and retired art teacher, who is content to sit in his house, drink whiskey, and watch potato vines grow from within his kitchen cabinet from long forgotten potatoes.  This is where the novel “A Curious Earth,” by Gerard Woodward, begins.  After becoming mesmerized by a painting of Rembrandt’s mistress, Hendrickje, and then a brief stay in the hospital, Aldous is re-energized to become a social being and he begins to have goals and purpose to his days.  

The people in his life are few.  His wife and oldest son are dead.  Of his two remaining sons, one is abroad in Belgium attempting to become a writer, while another is studying in the Amazon – sadly, they seem to almost ignore him until they need favors, like a place to stay.  His daughter is the stereotypical dutiful offspring, who stops by his house for brief visits (to check up on him), berates him for drinking too much and not bathing enough, and invites him over for Sunday afternoon dinner.   Upon urging from his daughter and his son’s girlfriend, he travels to Belgium to visit his bohemian writer son, where he meets a famous “sexologist” and becomes obsessed with a beautiful, young artist.  When he returns home to England, his quest for a new life continues, as he desperately tries to create friendships with an old, dull acquaintance from art school and a lady he meets in a night class. His attempts at creating human contact are desperate and sad, and Aldous frequently ends up crying or drunk when he fails.    

While these ingredients do not seem to be the recipe for an enjoyable novel, Gerard Woodward’s prose is rich and he keeps the reader enticed with hope that the pathetic Aldous will eventually find a connection in the people he meets.  The picture that Woodward paints is sadly familiar – readers will no doubt think of an elderly person close to them who may have “given up,” or settled into lonely complacency.  The story’s beautiful ending succeeds in reminding us the importance of human contact and a sense of purpose, and the ease at which we can either keep up with the world around us, or let a respectful and productive lifetime slip away unnoticed.       

Blogger Bio:  Elaine Legere is stay-at-home mommy and part-time marketing consultant, after years of working for Disney, Palm (aka Palm Pilot), Los Angeles Times, and Details Magazine.  She received her BA at UCLA in English Literature and an MBA from University of Colorado. She is an avid reader, loves movies, and all things outdoors.

To read Elaine’s other reviews:

Click HERE for The Space Between Before and After by Jean Reynolds Page

Click HERE for Free Style by Linda Nieves-Powell

5 Responses

  1. At this rate I think Elaine needs to start her own book blog! Great review!

  2. Hello fellow library thinger, ive tagged you if you want to play along come visit my site at http://www.bookroomreviews.wordpress.com🙂 tracy

  3. Stephanie.. I know!!! I’m encouraging her to do just that!

  4. You’ve been tagged to create an author meme. The rules can be found at my blog at litlicense.blogspot.com. Join in the fun!

  5. I like Books ,Great Work
    http://www.kengbooks.com/

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