The Painted Table - eBook
The Norwegian table, a century-old heirloom ingrained with family memory, has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forgetÃ¢ÂÂa childhood disrupted by her motherÃ¢ÂÂs mental illness.
Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her motherÃ¢ÂÂs obsession, the surface is thick with haphazard layers of paint and heavy with unsettling memories.
After a childhood spent watching her mother slide steadily into insanity, painting and re-painting the ancient table, Saffee has come to fear that seeds of psychosis may lie dormant within her. She must confront her motherÃ¢ÂÂs torment if she wants to defend herself against it.
Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is a beautiful portrait of inherited memory. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifactÃ¢ÂÂlike a family memberÃ¢ÂÂcan bear the marks of oneÃ¢ÂÂs past . . . as well as intimations of oneÃ¢ÂÂs redemption.
Having personal experience on the topic, Field brings a beautiful story to the table. Travelling through the past, present, and hope of the future, makes for a wonderful premise for this story. Add a family touched by the ravages of mental illness, and it becomes the reason why everyone you know should read this novel. A powerfully touching, deeply emotional and unforgettable drama that will stay with you.
What caught my attention about this story was the stark honesty of the writing despite the pain. Reading about Joann's decent into madness, April and Saffee fighting to keep their sanity - if there were Oscars for books, this one would make the cut. A wonderful story that will continually haunts my thoughts, and gave me a deeper understanding of what it truly means to rely on the One who is always there for us.
This book was provided by the publisher through Litfuse Nest for free in exchange for an honest review.
January 10, 2014
I wanted to like it, but I didn't
In 1858, a tree is felled that will become a table. In 1921, widowed immigrant Knute Kirkeborg is trying to eke out a living farming the harsh North Dakota prairie, supporting seven daughters and two sons. Daughter Joann hides under the huge kitchen table as she mourns her mother, who died in a Hospital for the Insane.
In 1943, Joann is left at home with her toddler, Sapphire Eve, while husband Nels serves in the navy, yet Joann has no idea how to be a mother, because her own mother was always too busy with the baby. Her parenting style is detached to the point of emotional neglect, because she never learned otherwise. As a result, Saffee doesnÃ¢ÂÂt learn either.
The Painted Table isnÃ¢ÂÂt a conventional novel. Rather, it is selecting vignettes through Joann and SaffeeÃ¢ÂÂs lives that show the family story. As a result, at times it feels as though nothing is happening. ItÃ¢ÂÂs a curious technique, more literary than genre and sometimes itÃ¢ÂÂs difficult to tell whether the main character in the story is Joann, Saffee, or mental illness. This lack of clarity around plot and character did mean the story dragged in places, as I was wondering when something was going to happen.
I wanted to like The Painted Table. The writing is different to what we normally see in Christian fiction, and part of me wanted to like the more literary style. And I wanted to like it because itÃ¢ÂÂs different, not the typical western or Amish romance that makes up so much of Christian fiction. I wanted something that was a little more challenging, but that I would find ultimately rewarding. It had potential, but in the end I didnÃ¢ÂÂt enjoy it because there was too little plot, too little character development, and too much theme.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson and Booksneeze for providing a free ebook for review.
February 23, 2014
intriguing look at mental illness
The Painted Table by Suzanne Field is an intriguing look at mental illness in a family through three generations. The main character in the book is a table that was brought to the United States by a Norweigan ancestor of Saffee's family many generations earlier. The first part of the book traces Saffee's mother, Joann's descent into mental illness, sparked by a harrowing prairie fire when Joann was a young girl. After hiding under the table through that awful experience, Joann comes to associate it with the foreboding in her home and begins her life-long struggle with mental illness. The second portion of the book traces Saffee's struggle not to succumb to the illness that swallowed her mother.
This book was somewhat disturbing. It was a long way into the story before I started to get glimpses of the redemption that would come later. That said, it was a very interesting look inside a person's mind as she fell further and further away from the regular world and into one of her own creation. I definitely couldn't put it down and stayed up way too late reading in order to find out what happened to these tormented characters. The redemption that does eventually come seems overtly Christian without needing to be that blatant.
All in all, I enjoyed the book once it was over and I was no longer immersed in a mind that has broken with reality.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.comÃÂ® <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : Ã¢ÂÂGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.Ã¢ÂÂ
February 2, 2014
Suzanne Fields creates an amazing and realistic picture of what it looks like to live in a family dealing with mental illness. We get to see what mental illness looks like mostly from the perspective of a child of a parent with a mental illness. But, through her story, we also get to see what it looks like to be a supportive spouse and loving family. Although the context and story are hard to read at times, you get a better understanding of what life would look like in Saffee's shoes. The pain and memories that a simple painted table brings up are numerous and hard to deal with. I think that this book exemplifies what it means to truly love someone, no matter what obstacles or events come our way. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone looking to gain more insight on mental illness and its influence on family life.
January 27, 2014