Benediction: Book summary and reviews of Benediction by Kent Haruf

Benediction

by Kent Haruf

Benediction
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2013
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

From the beloved and best-selling author of Plainsong and Eventide comes a story of life and death, and the ties that bind, once again set out on the High Plains in Holt, Colorado.

When Dad Lewis is diagnosed with terminal cancer, he and his wife, Mary, must work together to make his final days as comfortable as possible. Their daughter, Lorraine, hastens back from Denver to help look after him; her devotion softens the bitter absence of their estranged son, Frank, but this cannot be willed away and remains a palpable presence for all three of them. Next door, a young girl named Alice moves in with her grandmother and contends with the painful memories that Dad's condition stirs up of her own mother's death. Meanwhile, the town's newly arrived preacher attempts to mend his strained relationships with his wife and teenaged son, a task that proves all the more challenging when he faces the disdain of his congregation after offering more than they are accustomed to getting on a Sunday morning. And throughout, an elderly widow and her middle-aged daughter do everything they can to ease the pain of their friends and neighbors.

Despite the travails that each of these families faces, together they form bonds strong enough to carry them through the most difficult of times.  Bracing, sad and deeply illuminating, Benediction captures the fullness of life by representing every stage of it, including its extinction, as well as the hopes and dreams that sustain us along the way. Here Kent Haruf gives us his most indelible portrait yet of this small town and reveals, with grace and insight, the compassion, the suffering and, above all, the humanity of its inhabitants. 

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Separately and together, all the characters are trying to live - and in Dad's case, to die - with dignity, a struggle Haruf (Eventide) renders with delicacy and skill." - Publishers Weekly

"Between one character's insistence that '[e]verything gets better' and another's belief that '[a]ll life is moving through some kind of unhappiness,' the novel runs the gamut of homespun philosophizing. Even the epiphanies seem like reheated leftovers." - Kirkus

"Reverberant… From the terroir and populace of his native American West, the author of Plainsong and Eventide again draws a story elegant in its simple telling and remarkable in its authentic capture of universal human emotions." - Booklist

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Author Information

Kent Haruf Author Biography

© Cathy Haruf

Kent Haruf’s honors include a Whiting Foundation Award and a special citation from the PEN/Hemingway Foundation. His 1999 novel, Plainsong, won the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the New Yorker Book Award; and Benediction (2013) was on the shortlist for the 2014 Folio Prize.

He lived with his wife, Cathy, in his native Colorado until his death in November 2014 at the age of 71. His last novel, Our Souls at Night, published in May 2015. Gary Fisketjon, his editor at Knopf, said "Kent had finished all his revisions and even gone through the copy editing."

Author Interview

Name Pronunciation
Kent Haruf: Rhymes with sheriff

Other books by Kent Haruf at BookBrowse
  • Plainsong jacket
  • Our Souls at Night jacket
  • Eventide jacket
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