Sunday, June 28, 2009

Alma Rose--Edith Forbes

I want to encourage attention for this novel. It was published 15 years ago but it's a great story and worth checking out at the library.

Pat Lloyd is Kilgore's town oddball. She's intelligent and self-educated, and interested in a thousand things outside her small Western town. Despite that she still lives with her widowed dad, works in his store and keeps her inner self alive through regular shipments of mail order books. She spends a lot of time training her dogs and sketching on property she owns outside town, and while she's lonely, it's such a habit that she's accepted it.

This changes when Alma Rose starts coming in to town regularly when her trucking route changes. She's a feminine and flirtatious lady truck driver, befriending Pat and opening her eyes to the loneliness of her life and her place within the network of Kilgore. Through her relationship with Alma Rose, Pat begins to understand and value herself. And when their relationship ends, she embarks on a monumental project inspired by Alma Rose made possible only by her own oddities and gifts.

All of this is interesting of course, blah blah personal awakenings, yea! lesbians, yea! But Forbes is working a particular set of themes that I wrestle with in real life that that isn't often explored in fiction--What's a successful relationship? Can something good still come from betrayal? Where's the dividing line between crazy from love and just crazy? If cutting yourself off from others is protective, how do you deal with the aftermath when you open up? And how can you break yourself from the habit of cutting yourself off from others?

The author's website is here. She's written other novels that sound really interesting and look like they continue to explore these themes. I'm putting them on my reading list.

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