Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wish You Were Here-Graham Swift

Wish You Were Here

Graham Swift

Knopf, Apr 17 2012, $25.00

ISBN: 9780307700124

Jack and Ellie grew up on neighboring farms. They also share in common losing their moms when young as his died and hers deserted her family. They marry and begin farming like their ancestors have done for years. When Jack's younger brother Tom turned eighteen he joined the army. They lose contact with him over the next decade. In the interim their fathers die and Ellie persuades Jack to sell the farm that is failing due to the Mad Cow hysteria and run a seaside vacation park she inherited.

The place is closed for the winter so they vacation annually in Caribbean. However, the British military informs Jack that Tom died in Iraq. He cancels their vacation to arrange his sibling’s funeral over her objection as she insists "The past is past and the dead are the dead" while he believes he owes homage to his sibling (and his parents) as he proclaims "all the things that had once been dead and buried had come back again." With each turning forty soon, he sits on his bed musing about life and death with a shotgun in hand waiting for his spouse to come home during a storm.

This is an intriguing profound relationship drama as the extrovert has no problems relaying her feelings about family members who desert their loved ones while the introvert hides his feelings about family. With little action and no one looking at an umbrella in the same way, Wish You Were Here is a thought provoking tale that increasingly digs deeper into the souls of the protagonists as each of the couple struggles with their different concept of family.

Harriet Klausner

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