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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

Sage Singer is a 25 year old baker, from New Hampshire, who wants to hide away from the world, because of the scars, both physical and psychological that she has, resulting from an accident three years earlier.  She is in a relationship with a married man, which is going nowhere, and does a job that allows her to work at night, without contact with others..  When she befriends 95 year old Josef Weber at her grief group, she is able to open up to him in a way that she hasn’t been able to with anyone else, so when Josef tells her that he is a former Nazi, responsible for countless deaths, and requests that she helps him to die, her world is turned upside down.

(Don’t worry, all of the above happens very early in the book, so there are no spoilers here.)  I have always found Jodi Picoult’s novels to be compelling and thought-provoking, and this one was no exception.  It is stated early on that Sage’s grandmother Minka was a prisoner in Auschwitz during World War II, and a large part of the book is given over to her description of life during that time.  This may be a fictional story, but Picoult spoke with Holocaust survivors while researching this book, and while Minka may not really exist, the horrors described are all too real, and I was moved to tears while reading about them.

I liked and sympathised with Sage – she was a well rounded character, with flaws and insecurities that made her very believable.  The main theme of the book is forgiveness, and Sage’s dilemma in this regard was fascinating.  Her struggle to reconcile the elderly pillar of the community who she had become friends with, with the former war criminal who killed indiscriminately, was interesting and well described.  Can we ever forgive on behalf of someone else?  Does Sage have the right to forgive Josef’s sins – as he asks her to do – when it was not her who was personally sinned against?  All of this crops up throughout the book.

I also adored and admired Minka.  I would have liked to have seen more of Leo, the agent who has made a career out of tracking down war criminals and bringing them to justice – while he was immensely likeable, I didn’t feel that he was as well drawn as some of the others in the book.  This is only a slight niggle though, as for the most part, this book was truly hard to put down.

The ending was a surprise, and I’m still not sure whether I liked it or not.  I don’t want to give anything away, but it left me feeling slightly unsatisfied.  However, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of what had gone before, and overall, even though it’s not my favourite by Jodi Picoult (that would probably be Nineteen Minutes) I would certainly recommend this book.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

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This 1985 film features three generations of the Mitchum family.  Robert Mitchum is Jack Palmer, a man who walked out on his family 30 years earlier, and having learned that he has a terminal illness, wants to make his peace with them before its too late.  His son Tom is played by his real-life son Christopher Mitchum, and Tom’s son Johnny, is played by Christopher’s real-life son, Bentley.

In all honesty, there were a lot of things about this film which were quite cringeworthy.  Some of the acting – not Robert Mitchum’s (obviously) was a bit wooden.  And I feel it only fair to warn potential viewers of the TRULY AWFUL 1980s clothing on display!!  I know it was made in 1985, but frankly, there was no excuse for those clothes even then.  (I’m joking obviously – but I truly realised why the 1980s is known as the decade that taste forgot, although obviously that is no reflection on the film itself.)

There was one thing that kept me watching though – and that was Robert Mitchum. He may have been slightly older here than in some of the films for which he was famous, but he never lost his charisma, or his natural talent, and it does shine through.  (And – oh! that voice – I could listen to it all day.)  Claire Bloom is also great as Jack’s ex-wife Sally, and Tess Harper does a good job as Tom’s wife, Gwen.

In all, despite the cheesiness – which is to be expected of many films made at that time – there was actually plenty to enjoy about this movie, and I did find myself drawn in.  It was also interesting to see three generations of one family playing three generations of another family.  Not brilliant maybe, but certainly enjoyable.

Year of release: 1985

Director: Noel Black

Producers: Allen Epstein, Jim Green, Sandra Harmon, Stephanie Austen, Robert Papazian, Milton Sperling, James Veres

Writers: Frederic Hunter, Phil Penningroth

Main cast: Robert Mitchum, Christopher Mitchum, Bentley Mitchum, Tess Harper, Claire Bloom, Merritt Butrick

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