Esther’s friends recognize her grief and a new co-worker offers companionship and a silly sarcasm that awakens her but is that enough to stave off the black dog? Esther is called to Chartwell, Churchill’s home, to take dictation for his retirement speech. That it happens to be the anniversary of her husband’s death is a coincidence that works in author Hunt’s apt hands. Will Esther and Churchill help each other or will the black dog prevail?
This novel will make readers laugh out loud at the irony and clever bon-mots that the bête noire utters. Then within seconds, the careful layering of the descent and struggles the characters endure as they fight their depression will have readers close to tears. Rarely does such a singularly original novel have such charm and universal appeal. This tale is supremely engaging yet it will make readers ponder why some master darkness while others succumb to it. Readers that love language and dry, dry humor will find that the wittiness makes the darkness palatable. Black Pat’s ebullient character actually makes the mine field of depression captivating and he seems ripe for a movie version.
One question this book raises is whether people who suffer depression would want to read this and if they did could it help them. A lay person shouldn’t answer that question yet somehow the sensitivity of this novel makes it seem that it might be welcomed by those with depression or those hoping to understand them.
Summing it Up: Read this original and inspiring debut novel that shows the odd connection between Winston Churchill and a young librarian for the imaginative language, humor, and perceptive look at the world of depression.
Rating: 5 stars
Category: Fiction, Sushi with Green Tea Sorbet, Book Club
Publication date: February 8, 2011
Read the First Chapter: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/books/review/excerpt-mr-chartwell-by-rebecca-hunt.html?_r=1
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