A debut novel explores a protracted spiritual odyssey that takes place during the late 1960s.
This story opens as its protagonist, Cary, reaches a low point in his life: no job, no money, and no wife. Devastated by the end of his seven-year marriage, he takes a therapist’s advice to heart: Cary must embark on a long process of soul-searching to discover what is at the root of his suffering. One of the first stops on this journey is a visit with his grandmother, who sheds light on a family tragedy that affected Cary more than he had realized. Readers may wish that Thomas had devoted more pages to their encounter, as this sharp character disappears from the novel entirely. Later, when Cary comes into some money and distributes handsome sums to family members, it seems baffling that she is not included or even mentioned. This is but one example of the structural problems that plague the narrative. Similarly, quite late in the novel, Cary comes to the understanding that his ulcer was a major contributing factor to the turmoil of his marriage, resulting in his divorce. What ulcer? A steadier plot element that builds a fair amount of suspense concerns Cary’s involvement with his brother Jim’s top-secret invention. During Cary’s negotiations with different companies about selling the rights to this potentially revolutionary device, he meets Molly, a love interest that resurfaces throughout the book. A simultaneous stint as a cemetery groundskeeper and interactions with mourners bring up issues of loss, death, forgiveness, and regret. Finally, Cary has an epiphany of sorts when a mysterious woman slowly erases herself from view, disappearing and reappearing twice in front of him and another witness. In a note, the author states that this turning point is presented exactly as it happened and is “true in every detail.” It is up to individual readers whether to accept this assertion at face value. Regardless, this woman’s message intensifies Cary’s determination to continue with his spiritual trek, which leads him to accept the importance of faith and prayer. As Cary explains to Molly, “You ask for what you want and then cling to the highest virtue, patience, then incidents will appear out of the blue and these events can change your life in ways you can’t now imagine.”
A tale about a man’s mystical quest that should appeal to readers who believe in the power of prayer.