Larraine's Reviews > A Country Called Home

A Country Called Home by Kim Barnes
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Jul 08, 12

Read from July 06 to 08, 2012

It isn't easy for an author to make me cry even once, but Kim Barnes as done it again in this book from 2008. In 1960, fresh out of medical school, Thomas Delacotte takes his wife and love of his life, Helen to a hardscrabble property he has bought sight unseen in Idaho. Inspired by Hemingway's Nick Adams stories, he envisions a simple life away from the pressures of Connecticut and his wife's wealthy family where he can spend what turns out to be most of his time fishing, hunting for wild greens and watching the wildlife. (I read those stories as a pre-teen and young teen, but they didn't give me those same romantic notions at ALL!) They move outside a small Idaho town that needs a doctor. He reluctantly sets up practice, but, in reality, he was never meant to be a doctor. He apparently really doesn't know what he wants it seems other than Helen and a dream. When Helen gives birth to their daughter, tragedy follows. She is attracted to their hired man, a rather well-worn story. Elise grows up with a biological father who is distant and has become a drug addict. Her real father is Manny, the hired man, who has loved her mother forever. As I read this, I found Delacotte to be a character who was impossible to like. Despite loving his wife, he distances himself from her. He refuses to embrace the people of the small town who are willing to embrace him. They need a doctor, yet he can't be bothered. Plus he is negligent - both of his patients and his family. The New York Times book review I read, talks about the myth of self reliance and the need for community. Delacotte rejects that idea completely, refusing to allow his daughter the community she craves until it is almost too late for her. Luckily, she has Manny as her real father who guides her with love and compassion in memory of her mother. Human beings need and crave the community of others. It's what we are.
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