Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Book Review - The Body in the Gallery by Katherine Hall Page

I wrote about this author recently. I enjoyed The Body in the Gallery and feel that it is a small departure from her previous books. Much is the same - Faith Fairchild is still catering, still married to her New England bred clerical husband, still living in small town New England. I found many allusions to popular culture, which I do not remember noticing before. Allusions to many TV shows (esp. Mork and Mindy's Robin Williams), and one to Harry Potter's invisibility cloak were threaded throughout. Current high-end fashion and art also weaved another layer in Page's book.

I found many good aspects of this book. These include addressing current concerns that parents are facing - particularly the role of the Intranet on school aged children. Her middle school aged son, Ben, gets tangled in a web of being bullied into cyberbullying. Page is to be applauded for bringing this to the forefront as a important social issue that needs to be addressed by parents with school age children. Also the role of mother/wife/adult woman continues to be examined as Faith continues to grow with her children. This growth is facilitated by her husband's wishing to solve their family problems by having Faith be more of a stay-at-home mom /wife. She comes up with what can be termed a meaningful compromise at the end of the book, but the issue is not fully resolved.

I greatly appreciate Page's commitment to family and marriage that is clear without it being a deliberate nod to a political persuasion or party. She embodies what I sense is the New England commitment to traditional values with the flavour of New York City near by. Even more appreciated is that Page does not fully resolve the complexities of living in our time period.

It is not easy to be a parent in today's society. It is not easy to be a woman and understand what role she needs and wants to play (it seems that one of feminism's greatest triumphs is the giving woman with enough money the choice to work / stay at home). To deal with this complexity while solving a murder or two is no small feat. I look forward to reading her next book, The Body in the Sleigh. Meanwhile, I look foreword to reading her 2006 Body in the Ivy which, by happenstance, I have yet to read.

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