Well, I just finished yet another classic from Annie Dillard.
The Maytrees is her second novel, the first since 1991 I think. She is better known for her reflections on science and day to day observances. The Maytrees combines her best points from say, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek with a well built novel sith three dimensional characters, (as best as they will let us know them) and active, insightful description.
What is The Maytrees about though? Well, reading further could spoil the story for you. If you are reading it for more than the love story, feel free to read on, if you doubt you'll ever read it, read on. If you want to read it for the story alone, better quit, rent, borrow or buy it, and come back here later....
There, now that no one has gone away, lets continue!
Maytree is the last name of the main couple in the book. They embark on a quirky marital relationship and pay attention (as likely all of us do) too litte to what the nature of their love or just love in itself, is.
The main plotline in the story is that Mr Maytree, after 14 years and one son have come along, runs off with Mrs Maytree's best friend. No lead up to this really, just a few hours notice and he's gone. The rest of the book is Mrs Maytree's attempt to not let her loss get her or her son into a place of bitterness. She had seen her mother go through a similar situation and watched her live out her life in bitterness.
The beauty of the story, at times unbelievable, is that when 20 years has gone by, Mr Maytree, his new(er) wife move back in with the original Mrs Maytree so she can take care of them. Dillard goes through great pains to build up the possibility for us to believe that someone would actually do this ahead of time, without really letting us in on the whole secret.
Two observances for now, I'm going to re-read this book, so I'll have more observances later, say a month or three:
1) Christ loved the church just like this and it breaks my heart to think of it. God loves Israel like this and it breaks my heart to think of it. Israel is the wayward husband, the church is the new wife, that drew Israel away from the First Love. God, through Christ welcomes us back with open arms, without any explanation, just love.
2) Annie Dillard is Lou Maytree. I think.