Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Flower of Grass by James E. Robinson

Mock Cover--may not reflect finished product

We live in such a fast paced society. Everything seems to be on high speed, running here and there, and we learn to just try to keep up. But I recently discovered a place where the pace is slow and there’s time to breathe, to think, to pause and to soak in life’s message.

Ironically, the place is named Tranquility, and I found it in James E. Robinson’s debut novel, “The Flower of Grass”. In it, James takes a slow look at the life of a man who has forever chased the wind, only to have it blow him back home to where his journey first began.

John Allen has returned to his roots after years of pursuing his dream of becoming an author. His father has just passed away, and it is time to lay the ghosts of his past to rest. While John believes they reside in his home town, he will eventually realize that they actually dwell within him.

While John was pursuing, Jessie was waiting. Waiting for him to fulfill his promise to send for her, his one and only true love. Waiting, it seems, for a lifetime. When it finally seemed as if the waiting was over, she married another and went on with her life.

But now John is back, and Jessie discovers that she pushed the ‘hold’ button on that dream…and wonders now if it can be fulfilled, or if it is truly too late for the two of them.

Filled with haunting images and description, “The Flower of Grass” isn’t a novel you can zip through. It’s slow pace may cause some to wonder if anything is happening, when in reality so much is happening it can be difficult to drink it all in.

Rather than being action driven, or even story driven…this book is character driven. There is very little dialogue and that may frustrate some. Normally, it would have driven me NUTS! But the meaning is in the reaction of each character to his or her set of circumstances.

This book also has a lonely feel to it…a longing felt by each main character that lifts off the page and penetrates the reader’s heart. Most of the important scenes are focused on one character at a time, which echoes the theme of loneliness and searching.

With a minor change in chapter arrangement, this book was very satisfying. The book does contain some minor language, which I felt it could do without. Why offend a reader and cause them to miss out on the overpowering feeling that comes from the book itself?

That said, I found “The Flower of Grass to be the perfect reading experience for a quiet fall afternoon, with rain pattering on the window and a cup of coffee or tea at your elbow. An excellent read to get you to thinking about all you have in your life, and what it all does mean to you and should mean to you.

This as yet unpublished novel takes the saying ‘The grass is always greener’ and expands it, and fills in the holes in the trite phrase and helps us to see that looking in our own back yards and slowing down to realize what’s there can be all we need when those restless feelings strike.

I would have liked a more definitive message of God’s love; then again, the scene with the Preacher and Miss Ruth spoke volumes for me.

Overall, I give “The Flower of Grass” four out of five bookmarks, with a key as a charm…ultimately the key that unlocks the message of this story, if you hang in until the end. And I encourage you to slow down, savor the turn of phrase and experience life at a slower and more meaningful pace in this tiny town.

Happy Reading!

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