For the 48th week of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I wondered what possessed me to pick up Silver Birches by Adrian Plass. Supposedly (according to the back cover of the book) this author is "known for his ability to evoke both tears and laughter" and "has written over twenty books." Silver Birches evoked in me boredom and disappointment more than any other emotions.
The book centers around David Herrick whose wife, Jessica, died six months ago. He is in the grieving process when the book begins and reflects on the absence his wife leaves around the home. He notices little things about her as he looks at the refrigerator, how books are placed on the nightstand, and so forth. He says, "These tiny museums of personal randomness are all that is left to me."
Shortly thereafter, he received an invitation to a reunion from a long-forgotten acquaintance. Although he didn't want to attend the gathering given his recent loss and unstable emotional state, he reluctanctly agreed.
David is joined by other classmates, including the hostess who was one of Jessica's oldest friends. She told David that Jessica had given her something that she was supposed to pass along to David a few months after her death.
What was supposed to be a "poignant and moving story" ended up being a long-drawn out, awkward gathering both for the reunion attendees and the reader. I found myself skimming through the majority of the book wondering what the item was that Jessica wanted David to have after her death.
Finally, by the time the guests were leaving the reunion, Angela says to David in an oh-by-the-way manner, "It's from Jessica. It's only a letter." WHAT? You mean I have endured 179 pages of this book only to find out it's a letter? That, in itself was disappointing.
If that's not enough, the letter is what concludes the book. The reader must endure another 4 1/2 pages of a letter that only the recipient could have possibly appreciated.
Perhaps if the reader felt a connection - any connection - to the characters and what they've gone through, then maybe the letter would be a tear-jerker. For me, it was just a huge disappointment, and made me wish for the time back I used reading and skimming through this book.