A loving couple recovers from a tragic accident in this gently humorous novel from Vancouver resident Adderson.
When plump, happy go-lucky Ross meets Iliana, the two quickly fall in love and marry, but wedded bliss is cut short by a car accident that leaves the graceful, athletic Iliana paralyzed from the waist down. Ross, who was driving the car, is equally paralyzed by guilt and their once easy intimacy suffers. What follows is a generous, clear-eyed study of love, human error and resilience. Adderson (A History of Forgetting, 1999) is equally interested in the life of the body and the spirit, and is especially adept at exploring the point where the two meet. The title refers to both Ross’s post-accident adoption of Buddhist meditation rituals, and Iliana’s physical limitations, which require her to observe the world from a sitting position. After an initial interlude in Vancouver, B.C., the majority of the novel takes place in a small town on Vancouver Island, where Ross and Iliana run a café. Eventually, they are joined by Ross’s neurotic twin, Bonnie, and her young son, Ross’s adored nephew, Bryce. Bonnie’s clinginess and dependency highlight Iliana’s quiet strength, but Adderson neatly avoids sentimental clichés by investing her protagonist with a fierce sexual desire. Ross, meanwhile, has exchanged his former hedonism for vegetarianism and long bicycle rides. As the characters move toward their sexual and emotional crises, Adderson explores the impact of both Ross’s newfound Buddhism and the Christian fundamentalism of Iliana’s childhood on their actions. The novel’s resolution satisfies hopes without undermining the tale’s complexity.
Quietly thoughtful, with surprising touches of humor and eroticism.