Friday, 26 February 2016

"Sitting Practice" by Caroline Adderson

Yes, this is the cover for this book that was on the long list for Canada Reads this year.
Ross and Iliana Alexander, married for three weeks, were on their way home from playing tennis.  The tennis ball rolled under the pedal, and Iliana took off her seat belt to retrieve the ball.  In the confusion, Ross took his eye off the road and hit a truck.  Ross was unhurt but Iliana suffered a spinal cord injury.
   I was interested to see how this immense challenge would be handled.
   Although I did read to the end, I was disappointed in this novel. Perhaps the cover should have told me what to expect- way too much detail of sex, in fact the book is saturated with sexual overtones. 
   The title may refer to the fact that Iliana had to learn to sit straight in the wheelchair - find her centre.  It may also refer to Ross turning to Buddhism and learning to meditate at a weekend retreat. But in neither case, was the sitting practice done in the nude.
   Perhaps I would have liked this cover better.
There are interesting themes in this novel that weren't really developed well- faith, fidelity, family and food.
1.) Faith- Iliana married Ross to rebel against her strict fundamentalist parents who cut her off when she married.  Ross had also been damaged in childhood and tried to find a spiritual path through Buddhism.
2.) Fidelity- Ross had never been faithful to the women in his past, but really loved Iliana and was determined in his commitment to her.  However, after Iliana's rehabilitation, she was determined to be independent and Ross was unable to reconnect.  So Iliana instigated an affair with a shiftless 'character' in town.
3.) Family- Ross had a messed-up twin sister who had an adorable son.  Ross was always trying to help his sister and became very attached to the boy.
4.) Food- The novel begins in Vancouver where Ross had a catering service.  After the accident, they moved to Vancouver Island and opened a cafe, where Iliana, from her wheelchair, was an active partner. There is a lot of description of food and food preparation.
  I was grossed out by the couple joking about cannibalism on their first date.  There were other crude and gross comments throughout the novel.  In the end, Ross and Iliana do reunite over a pork dinner (Ross was a vegetarian).
Other covers:
This author has won awards for her writing and is considered to be one of Canada's most promising emerging writers by Margaret Atwood.
I will pass on her future writing and wish that I had not wasted time on this book.  Thankfully it was not chosen for Canada Reads and I would not recommend it.

Trivial thought: The author used the word "discombobulation" three times!  Love that word!

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