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Benediction (2013)

by Kent Haruf

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Plainsong (3), Holt cycle (5)

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1,0389816,645 (4.08)258
A terminally ill cancer patient is attended throughout his final days by his wife and daughter while the trio contemplates their relationships with an estranged son, a situation that stirs up painful memories for a new next-door neighbor who has recently lost her mother.
  1. 20
    Tinkers by Paul Harding (Limelite)
    Limelite: Another gentle and quiet examination of a small town man's life and father/son relationships from the perspective of the dying man.
  2. 00
    A Dignified Exit by John J. Asher (Limelite)
    Limelite: Another rugged individualist at life's terminus who manages with grace and dignity to leave the world a better place than he found it.
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» See also 258 mentions

English (86)  Catalan (4)  Italian (4)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (97)
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
This third volume of the Plainsong Trilogy, although it is also set in Holt, Colorado, does not have even the tenuous connection of overlapping characters that united the first two volumes of the trilogy. It shares the setting and the quiet prose style, but we are introduced to an entirely new set of characters.

Dad Lewis is dying of cancer. He and his wife Mary are estranged from their son Frank. Their daughter is back to help through Dad's illness, but will Frank even know his father is ill.
Alice, the young girl who lives next door, has lost her mother and lives with her grandmother Berta May. Alene, a retired school teacher, has returned to live with her mother Willa on her farm a bit out of town. They visit with Dad Lewis, and also befriend Alice and try to help her through the loss of her mother.
There is a new preacher in town, Reverend Hyle, and he has become deeply unpopular with the congregation because he is speaking out against the war. Over the course of the novel, as Dad Lewis's health declines, Reverend Hyle loses his job and his family.

So once again, a quiet slice of life in Holt, Colorado. Even though we meet entirely knew characters, I liked this book as much as the first two.

3 1/2 stars

First line: "When the test came back the nurse called them into the examination room and when the doctor entered the room he just looked at them and asked them to sit down."

Last line; "And in the fall the days turned cold and the leaves dropped off the trees and in the winter the wind blew from the mountains and out on the high plains of Holt County there were overnight storms and three-day blizzards." ( )
  arubabookwoman | Sep 17, 2022 |
Benediction - the utterance or bestowing of a blessing at the end of a service, or in this case a life. For we are told immediately that Dad Lewis has cancer and will soon die, and what we get after that revelation is exactly what he gets, a chance to review his life, to see where he went wrong and right; and to see what he leaves behind him, the life that will still move forward when he is gone.

Kent Haruf is such an amazing writer! He can get inside the minds and hearts of his characters in such a way that you are standing beside each of them, living their everyday lives, feeling their struggles. This isn’t a happy book, Dad is dying and there isn’t a single other character who doesn’t have a substantial problem to deal with, including the little girl next door, who is dealing with the loss of her mother and building a new life with her grandmother. But, oddly enough, this is not a wholly depressing book, because there is hope and life and moments of goodness, and the message seems to be that if you can expect woe in life, you can also expect some joy.

One thing is certain, Kent Haruf has seen death up close and personal. There were parts of this that were very difficult to read, not because of what was happening to the characters, but because I kept reliving the loss of my own parents. Death is often a slow, aching process, but with that process also comes an opportunity to come to grips with the life you have lived and to contemplate what life beyond yours will involve for those you leave behind. My own mother worried herself with distributing her sentimental possessions among those she loved, far beyond her own attachment to anything material. I was back in that moment as Dad Lewis opened his cedar box that contained arrowheads, snake rattles, his pocket watch and old silver dollars. I have such a box myself. I understood.

And therein lies the magic that is Haruf. We understand. We feel every emotion, because we have felt them; we see every scene, because we have seen it before; we recognize the mistakes as being unintended hurt, because we have hurt others and been hurt ourselves in just such random ways.

Love is the most important part of life, isn’t it. If you have love you can live in this world in a true way and if you love each other you can see past everything and accept what you don’t understand and forgive what you don’t know or don’t like. Love is all.

Is that not a message we should all take to heart? A major theme that runs through the book is one of forgiveness. Forgiveness for the humanity of other people, for their ignorant and misguided reactions to one another, and for their inability to ask or give forgiveness themselves.

People don’t come to church on Sunday morning to think about new ideas or even the old important ones. They want to hear what they’ve been told before, with only some small variation on what they’ve been hearing all their lives, and they want to go home and eat pot roast and say it was a good service and feel satisfied.

Raise your hand if you can relate to this in any way in your life, not just in the context of church. Insert politics, family dynamics, career choices, and it would read just as true. We are, as humans, mostly guilty of closing our minds more often than we open them. People don’t want to be disturbed. They want assurance. Amen.

When we lost Kent Haruf in 2014, I had only read one of his books. I knew we had lost a good writer, but I had no idea how much we had lost. It’s a little late, sir, but I wish a benediction for you...a blessing at the end.
( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
Genau wie alle zuvor gelesenen Bücher von Kent Haruf hat auch dieser Roman mich sehr berührt. Als Leser begleitet man einen alten Mann durch die letzten Monate seines Lebens. Er versucht, seine Angelegenheiten zu regeln, Konflikte beizulegen und Frieden zu finden.

Aber genauso ist es der Roman einer Kleinstadt, in der auf der einen Seite Nachbarschaftshilfe selbstverständlich ist und der Ladenbesitzer seine Kunden wirklich kennt, die aber auf der anderen Seite gegenüber Außenseitern wie dem Sohn des Reverend oder Dads Sohn Frank ziemlich hart sein kann. Der Handlungsstrang um den Reverend und seine Predigt, die den Patrioten der Stadt sauer aufstößt, war mir fast ein wenig viel.

Ganz klar ist mir auch nicht, warum dieser Band als Teil 3 einer Trilogie gilt, in meinen Augen ist der ähnlich wie "Unsere Seelen bei Nacht" ein eigenständiger Roman in derselben kleinen Stadt. Tatsächlich werden die Ereignisse aus Band 1 und 2 quasi nur in einem Satz erwähnt.

Trotzdem solide vier Sterne (und Neugier auf die übrigen Romane des Autors). ( )
  Ellemir | May 25, 2022 |
A book about regrets I don't regret reading. Haruf speaks to the small town in all of us. ( )
  dele2451 | Mar 19, 2022 |
Kent Haruf's books are so gentle and touching I can't help but think he must have been such a lovely man in real life himself.

I'd expected this third book in the series to pick up on the characters from the first two books, so it confused me a bit when it didn't, but once I got past that this was just a beautiful book to read.

Not one for the recently bereaved, the main story centres around Dad Lewis, his wife and their grown up daughter preparing their goodbyes as he lives his last couple of weeks following a battle with lung cancer. Whilst of course it's very sad in places, it's ultimately a quiet story of a good and decent man who did his best. Neither his life nor those of the neighbours and preacher who help in those final days have been wrinkle free, but in Haruf's hands they're all people with a good heart, so when at last Dad Lewis passes there's a profound feeling of gratefulness for his life and for the people who have always been there for the family.

4.5 stars - a beautiful trilogy that makes your heart sing that some goodness remains in this world. ( )
  AlisonY | Mar 13, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kent Harufprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bramhall, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Benediction—the utterance of a blessing, an invocation of blessedness.
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For Cathy
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Quan va arribar el resultat de l'analítica, la infermera els va convocar a la sala d'exploracions i quan hi va entrar el metge els va mirar i els va demanar que s'asseguessin.
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A terminally ill cancer patient is attended throughout his final days by his wife and daughter while the trio contemplates their relationships with an estranged son, a situation that stirs up painful memories for a new next-door neighbor who has recently lost her mother.

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