Most men in my family make widows of their wives and orphans of their children. I am the exception. My only child, Kate, was struck and killed by a car while riding her bicycle home from the beach one afternoon in September a year ago. She was thirteen. My wife, Susan, and I separated soon afterward. – opening paragraph of Enon -
Charlie Crosby, grandson of George Crosby (the protagonist of Paul Harding’s debut novel Tinkers), is living in New England, enjoying his life with his only child, Kate. They take walks, bike rides, feed birds from their bare hands, putter around at yard sales, and share an idyllic existence in a rural town. And then one day, Kate climbs on her bike and rides away…and never comes home again. Charlie is left reeling and grief stricken. He closes down, pushes his wife Susan away (literally) and sinks into a drunken, drug-fueled emptiness.
What could I say? What word could I utter into that rushing silence that would change things, that would bring Susan back to Enon, that would bring Kate back to both of us? – from Enon -
Enon is Charlie’s journey through the painful year following his daughter’s death. Eloquently written, difficult to read without sadness, and beautifully observed, the novel examines grief, despair, redemption, and how the passage of time can bring about the slow process of healing from loss.
The old air fell out of the clock, dry, held in the cubic shape of the case for who knows how many years until I opened the door and it collapsed out into the contemporary atmosphere, distinct and nearly colonial for a moment and then subsumed, and I wondered how old it was, if it contained any of Simon Willard’s breath. - from Enon -
Paul Harding’s work is meditative and meticulously penned. It is filled with the quiet observation of nature, the passage of the seasons, and the limits of memory.
Memories of her feeding the birds and practicing running and playing cribbage were not enough. I was ravenous for my child and took to gorging myself in the boneyard, hoping that she might meet me halfway, or just beyond, one night, if only for an instant – step back into her own bare feet, onto the wet grass or fallen leaves or snowy ground of the living Enon, so that we could share just one last human word. – from Enon -
Enon is almost unbearably sad and despairing at times…a painful journey through a parent’s worst nightmare. And yet, Harding does not leave the reader bereft. He finds room for hope and healing in the face of terrible loss. He allows his character room for redemption.
As with his highly successful novel, Tinkers (read my review), Harding offers deep insight into the passage of time, loss, and the importance of family. This is a highly literary work of fiction, one which allows the reader to profoundly feel the emotions of its protagonist. Readers who enjoy literary fiction which is lyrical and introspective, will want to read Harding’s sophomore effort.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher through Library Thing’s Early Review Program.