Author: Bob Mitchell
The following review was contributed by: Amy Huffman Cloer: To read more of Amy's reviews CLICK HERE
Well, it took me forever to get through Bob Mitchell’s Match Made in Heaven. Don’t get the wrong idea; I loved the book. People just kept stealing it from me. First, my husband saw the golf flag and golf ball on the cover and swept it away. Then my friend was over and wanted to let her husband read it while they were on vacation for the weekend so that she could catch up on her reading without feeling guilty. He loved it so much he wanted to give it to his pastor, another golf fanatic. I had to put my foot down and refuse the pastor for now. I hope that doesn’t bode badly for me later… when I pass on….Hmmm….
Anyway, that idea is precisely the premise of this novel. The main character, Elliott is stricken in his prime with a massive heart attack. As a condition of his return to life, God challenges Elliott to a gentlemanly game of golf. Of course God, being busy, assigns certain individuals already residing in heaven as his golf proxies. What ensues is a mixture of incredible detail, humor, suspense, and a thought-provoking ending that anyone can appreciate.
First of all, despite my association with the above-referenced golf addicts, I am not a golfer. I don’t watch it; I don’t understand it; and I don’t even really like it. However, this book described the game in such a way that I didn’t need any previous knowledge other than terms (like mulligan and birdie) that one picks up just during daily life. Mitchell’s descriptions of shots, the fairways, the roughs and sand traps made perfect sense. I did not feel at all ostracized from the content of the book.
I found myself laughing at the choice of opponents that God chose for Elliott for each hole. Starting with Leonardo daVinci and moving through a variety of recognizable historical influences, Mitchell weaves the golf experience and the life experience in such a way that the readers can actually learn and reflect upon their own lives along with Elliot. As Elliot seeks to beat these formidable opponents for the prize of life, he becomes more aware of what his life has been and, hopefully, can still be.
But this book is not a heavy, pedantic “live life to the fullest” sermon. It is light and funny and wraps around you without your knowing. Elliott’s self-deprecating moments are off-set by his self-motivating moments, and the reader can’t help but cheer as he sinks his putts and cringe as he lands in the rough. Interspersed are clever word plays and references to the heart, which becomes a delightful little symbol to amuse the English teacher in all of us. This symbol cleverly reminds Elliott, and the reader, why he is there in the first place.
Mitchell’s revival of some of the most colorful figures of history is the hallmark of this novel. Freud’s psychoanalysis on the fifth hole, the terrible clever drama which occurs as Elliott challenges Shakespeare on the fourteenth hole, and the ironically appropriate Sudden Death chapter which features the old codger known only as Dog which leads Elliott to a surprising ending to his day at the links. In addition, Elliott, in his continuous monologue of thoughts, conjures and channels additional sports figures, thinkers, writers and artists as he makes life-changing choices of clubs, drives and strategy.
This book is smart, clever, engaging and unpretentious. Thumbs up to Bob Mitchell and congratulations on both of his recent victories. My friend’s pastor now has the book, thank God!