Where I got the book: passed on to me by a friend. Well, it was offered at a book club meeting and I POUNCED.
In his Author's Note, Jason Mott tells us...moreWhere I got the book: passed on to me by a friend. Well, it was offered at a book club meeting and I POUNCED.
In his Author's Note, Jason Mott tells us that the genesis of this novel was a dream in which his deceased mother was sitting at the table waiting for him when he got home--as if she'd never been gone--and they simply talked together about what had happened since her death. I too have had dreams where I engage in quite ordinary activities with long-dead relatives, and I welcome them; it's nice to have a chance to see them again.
But supposing they all started coming back?
The Returned takes this premise and underplays it beautifully. The focus of the story is Harold and Lucille Hargrave, an elderly couple so far moved on from the death of their son Jacob in 1966, when he was eight years old, that Harold momentarily forgets Jacob's name when he turns up on his doorstep in the company of an agent from the Bureau of the Returned. Their little Southern town of Arcadia becomes a hotspot in the government's attempts to contain the tide of new-again humanity.
The Returned come back exactly as they left, with no memory of the space between their death and their new life. The phenomenon is never explained. For some of the True Living, as the never-been-dead come to be known, the return offers healing, reconciliation or the chance to settle unanswered questions about what a relationship really meant. For the rest of the True Living the Returned present a threat as they turn up in ever-increasing numbers, putting pressure on land and resources that the living regard as theirs.
How could I resist this premise? And I loved the way Mott handled the story; completely believable, never predictable. Harold, Lucille and Jacob are beautifully drawn and the writing is superb and at times very moving. Lucille is religious but Harold is not--not since Jacob's death--allowing the author to explore different sides of the mystery of death. I loved both characters with their cantankerous old-people opinions overlaying the people they were before Jacob's death; that sense of an older person's body somehow containing the younger you was rendered very poignantly.
Often I'll start a book with a great premise only to have the author disappoint me by the end, but it didn't happen here. I've been looking forward to reading this since I first heard about it and it was worth the wait.(less)
This is not really a novel, more a novella or longish short story. A rather lightweight story, too, with Lor...moreWhere I got the book: purchased on Kindle.
This is not really a novel, more a novella or longish short story. A rather lightweight story, too, with Lord John Grey in Jamaica getting mixed up with zombies. The best thing about it is Gabaldon's explanation of how zombiedom can be achieved without actually raising the dead; I also appreciated seeing Geillis Duncan aka Mrs. Abernathy, and would have liked more of her.
One for the fans, definitely, but not the best one.(less)