Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hearts, Ghosts, and War, Oh My!

I read “Water’s Purple Heart” by Catherine Ryan Hyde in about two weeks. That’s a slow pace compared to some people I know and how fast I used to read, but I’ve got a lot more responsibilities than I used to. That’s why I left the book at work until last weekend. Then I devoured the remaining two thirds on Saturday, snacking on it here and there until I got to gobble it up as dessert after the kids were in bed.

The book was an easy read with it’s simple and yet poetic prose... Okay maybe not poetic, but succinct or concise sounds too cut and dry (and makes me think of the documents I write and review at work). But what is poetry anyway but lyrical prose striving to be succinct and precise, but in a pretty. So yes, in my mind the prose was poetic. Not once did my eyes wander ahead trying to skip dialog or descriptions.

Walter, the central character in “Walter’s Purple Heart”, is trying to come to grips with the fact he’s dead and life moved on without him. Killed at the end of World War II, he’d left his mother’s lemon pie and a fiancée to enlist with his best friend Andrew. Reincarnated in Michael, a twenty-one year old drifting pot-head, Walter manages to reconnect with Andrew and Mary Ann (the fiancée). Together the four of them sort out Walter’s life, death, and the feelings he hadn’t quite worked out.

Amazingly enough I finished the book right at bedtime, with my husband’s head on my lap. (Poor guy was exhausted from riding his dirt bike - fyi, the link is a video.) It was quite fitting, given the theme of love that ran through the book. (Real love too, not that stuff they try to pass off as love these days.) I definitely like this book. There are so many things in it that I can relate to.
  • Walter / Michael’s different ways of feeling love – I’ve been through the transition of I do this because it’s expected to needing to hear my loved ones voice at least once a day.
  • The Purple Heart – my grandfather earned one, but he never talked about it. My grandmother had to eves drop on his conversations with his army buddies to figure it out.
  • Walter’s love of lemon pie – my grandfather's mother was a working woman (in a time of few) and to show her boys love, she'd stay up late and bake. My grandmother continued baking for my grandfather, though it was slowly killing him, because that's how he understood love.
Anyway, the book is sadly out of print (maybe she’ll get around to an e-book?) but if you go to her website page for it, she’s got some links to where used books can be found. Catherine Ryan Hyde is also the author of that amazing story “Pay It Forward”. I’ve seen the movie, now I feel need to read the book.

And since we’re on the topic of books, Charley R put up my guest post on her blog, Leaning Tower of Plot, yesterday. It’s all about the books I grew up with and how they’ve influenced me as a writer.

:} Cathryn Leigh


  1. Thanks for the great review, Cathryn. And I just wanted to go on record as saying that my goal is to get my four backlist titles out in ebook format by the end of this year.

    1. Sweet that's good to hear (or should it really be read, he he). And good luck with it! :}

  2. Hmm, sounds like quite an interesting book! Perhaps a bit old for me - being too young to have had a proper relationship or suffered any major bereavement just yet - but it sounds really quite lovely and mature, if you get my drift.

    Fab review!

    1. Yes, I do suspect it is a book better left until you have a few more years of life under your belt. I don't know if you have to go through a major bereavement, but I suspect a bit more knowledge in the relationship department might make some things more clear.

      Still she's planning on getting it out as a e-book, so when the time comes you can procure a copy!

      Mine, signed, hard copy will have to make the family rounds I think. :}

      And glad to know I'm creating well written reviews.

      :} Cathryn