Ruth Reviewed By Sandra Shwayder Sanchez of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer Sandra Shwayder Sanchez: Sandra is
a retired attorney and co-founder of a small non-profit publishing
collective: The Wessex Collective with whom she has published two short fiction collections
(A Mile in These Shoes and Three Novellas) and one
Her most recent novel, The Secret of A Long Journey is soon to be released by Floricanto Press in April 2012 and her first novel, The Nun, originally published by Plain View Press in 1992 is being Â reissued in a 2nd Edition with additional material by PVP in March 2012.
View all articles by Sandra Shwayder Sanchez
Author: Marlene S. Lewis
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd.
At 327 pages Ruth would be too long were it merely a love story with an interesting twist. However, this story of a young woman from her first sexual awakening to a new beginning in middle age is also the story of colonial racism in Australia in the fifties and the consequences of this racism that are passed on from one generation to the next. In addition to this major theme there are sub themes of classicism and sexism that come up in the stories of subsidiary characters Ruth encounters on her journey.
I’ve been known to say
that while non-fiction makes us aware of social problems, fiction has
more power to make us care about social problems. I should amend that
to say that it is the stories of individuals more than statistics
that create empathy and a passion to change what is wrong in our
societies. So whether a story is fictional or real is not the issue
here but whether it is compelling enough to inspire readers to want
to do something about the injustices of racism, classicism, sexism as
we recognize them around us in addition to helping us recognize them
in the first place.
In Ruth, Marlene S. Lewis tells a fictional story that feels absolutely real and as a reader I feel like I could hear the voices of Ruth, Lindsay, Tommy, Joyce, Aggie, Stephanie, Ali, Lachlan, Josh and others as if I’d known them. The author has mastered the craft of creating characters with the particular idiosyncrasies that make them believable individuals, each and every one. She makes us know them, care about them, hear and respond to what they have to say. There is the usual disclaimer at the beginning that the book is a work of fiction and any resemblance of the characters to real people is purely coincidental. I would add that such resemblance is due to the author’s gifts of observation and insight. The style is matter of fact. Because the facts themselves are dramatic the author has no need to over dramatize events, she simply tells them and we are moved, sometimes shocked, at the simple recitation of the realistically imagined facts.
Because the book depicts so many realistic instances of important universal social issues, Ruth is a book I highly recommend to book clubs who are looking for spirited discussion of the social dynamics that affect us all, everywhere at some time and all the time somewhere.
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