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Still Life by Christa Parrish

Still Life

by Christa Parrish

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3.5 stars rounded down to 3.

This book was a mixed bag for me. The tragedy with which it starts, a plane crash which kills all, among them Julian Goetz, a mulitple Pulitzer award winner and the person who connects the various main characters, ties them together in ways they don't at first know. He had been married for five months to Ada, whom he rescued from her father's abusive cult because he loved her. We see her grief, and in it her journey to learn more about the man she loved. This story line was not only poignant, difficult and at times breathtakingly beautiful, was the best part of the book. Through it and also a flashback section from Julian's POV, we also got to know Julian and so have even more reason to wish he had never got that seat on that plane.

Not so riveting, for me, was the storyline of Katherine, who wasn't nearly as easy to like, albeit some of the tragedy of her past gives you some empathy for her. Hers is a journey of guilt, since she only gave up her seat on the fateful flight in order to spend another night with her married lover, and she is forced to re-examine her priorities and what has happened to her broken, but still together marriage. It wasn't the affair that made me not like her, but more I just didn't connect well with her even though I could certainly see how things could have gone in the direction they did.

Evan, Katherine's younger son, was born with a bad heart and wasn't expected to make it. He has a passion for photography and a lifelong friend named Grace who is probably one of the best fictional examples of friends I have read about in some time, not perfect, but strong, caring, compassionate and there.

So some parts were a beautiful five, but some I slogged through at a 2 star level. Overall I liked this book, but it's not my favourite one so far by Parrish. ( )
  Karin7 | Jan 20, 2016 |
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Still Life by Christa Parrish, © 2015

An adventure to learn further of the one you love; bravely in the process Ada Goetz finds herself.

Marrying five months ago to leave for a new life. Now I am alone. How will I navigate a world I do not know? The last word I had from him is gone. He was coming home to me... my first-ever birthday celebration. On my twenty-sixth birthday, my husband dies coming home to me. What am I feeling? Numbness; seeing others, hearing them like through a tunnel. A time tunnel, never to return to me.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.
--Proverbs 18:10

Lost and apart, Ada shuffles through time, attempting to go back ~ but recognizing she must go forward.

We're all of us too busy and too focused on our own needs to look up and notice the desperation of others. Or the laughter. If someone looks at one of my photographs and his heart is awakened by what is framed there––grief, loss, joy, poverty, peace, illness, ignorance, fortitude, grace––then perhaps he'll be moved to respond when he comes face-to-face with those same things when passing his neighbor on the sidewalk in front of his own home.
--Still Life, 183

Do we have vision to see outside of ourselves? I think of the old Time magazine black-and-white photos during war time with the barbed wire strung every which way. Perspective. Seeing.

I love the depth of Christa Parrish's works. She is within and without ~ seeing with a heart that yearns, sees ~ despair, hidden joy, relaxed indifference. You will not walk away without remembering one character in particular, for they all are different ~ some clinging, others defiant and yet one searching for Truth that can only be found from the beginning, God. Shallowness is swallowed up in victory of discovery. I especially remember Stones for Bread, her first novel I read. You will find the titles have hidden meaning too ~ until they become rich with explosion of an aha moment of discovering the dual meaning that is life expounded so deftly, so unexplainably rich. To throw light on what before was dark and obscure, her characters grow. I also like how she writes from the perspective of each character, revealing the whole.

How our lives bump into another, unexpectedly. We may not even know or realize the extent of our presence, or lack of it. Julian Goetz did that to Evan Walker; met him without saying hello. In the depth of exchange, Julian did not know Evan knew him, deeply as a silent mentor by studying his work. Silently projecting, with a knowing eye for focus, for detail behind his eyes. Seeing the inside reflected on the face, that someone else likely would miss. The instant when real was glimpsed and then hidden again beneath a veneer of platitude, silence. Grimness that everything is okay; but it is not.

I am looking forward to her next novel. Her awareness bears listening to in a world void of hearing. Expansion of thought from the heart, melting an ocean of obscurity.

***Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for sending me a copy of Christa Parrish's novel, Still Life. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.*** ( )
  lanehillhouse | Mar 12, 2015 |
Title: Still Life
Author: Christa Parrish
Website: http://christaparrish.com
Pages: 352
Year: 2015
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Christa Parrish’s novels are unique and very thought-provoking and heart tugging too. The story kind of starts out in a way that made it hard for me to follow at first so I read the back cover before proceeding further. Once I got the jest of the tale, I was able to go back inside the pages and really enjoy the progression of the characters, plot and climax.
The basic thrust is that the story is written depicting the point of view four different people have to a tragic event. Like ripples left after a rock is thrown into water, so readers will begin to see how people are affected by one incident. However, there is a beautiful love story involved and in time readers will enjoy discovering too how one life can touch so many and how a wife married for a short time sets out to understand the man she was married to and lost all too quickly.
Reading about the questions people have been asking of God for decades is but one theme and discovering afresh just how big God is beyond our understanding is another. The author paints with words how, like her characters, we may not know the reason “why”, but if we take one step at a time and listen for His voice, we would find He is closer than we ever realized.
I loved that Christa didn’t have her characters lives all wrapped up in a neat, clean ending but leaves them living in pages right are. Unlike TV or some movies that bring the story to a conclusion before time is up, the tale helps us glimpse lives for a moment and then move on. It felt as though there was a moment to intersect with the characters or themes, but not a place to dwell. I came away thinking that while as humans we go from one story to the next or one event in our lives to whatever happens, God knows every single moment of our lives. We intersect and interact with God all day long and with Him we dwell, which can bring such peace in the various seasons of life.
My rating is 4 stars.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/. Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457 ( )
  lcjohnson1988 | Mar 1, 2015 |
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"Ada escaped her family's self-enclosed world to elope with a mysterious stranger. Five months later, she's a widow ina strange new world. Ada was born into a fringe religious sect named for her father, The Prophet. But her lifelong habit of absolute obedience was shattered when she fled the family compound to elope with photographer Julian Goetz. Katherine Walker's marriage was a sham. She and Will rarely spoke without yelling -- and never touched. Her affair brings her both escape and guilt. When a tragic plane crash takes Julian from Ada and exacerbates Katherine's sense of shame, both women become desperately unsure of where they belong in the world -- until the devotion of an artistic young boy conspires to bring them together. From award-winning novelist Christa Parrish, Still Life is a cunningly complex work that captures themes of abusive religion, supernatural love, and merciful escape. It will resonate with anyone who has ever felt called to a drastic change -- or tried to hear the small whisper of God's voice"--… (more)

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