Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Book Review: The Painted Table by Suzanne Field

Disclosure: I have been given a free review copy of the book for the sole purpose of writing a review. This has in now way affected my opinion of the book. The review of the book is solely mine and in my own words.

A Little Summary of the book:

The Painted Table depicts a story of a young child, Joann, who grows up with a painful past. In the midst of nine children, she misses the lack of the caresses and attention of a mother. Joann in the midst of trauma finds refuge under their table, passed down from generation to generation. Hidden and protected beneath it, she views the world around her. Finding solace, comfort and peace it is her refuge. As a child she overhears and sees things, that were not meant for her beneath this table. Traumatic events and happenings intertwine themselves as dark memories stored down deep in her mind. As an adult she inherits that same table she took refuge under, but now it has become nothing more than a reminder of all of the dark and forboding past. In an effort to bury the past behind her she begins to paint the table.

Watching Joann are her two daughters Saffe and April. As Joann tries to cover up her past with paint, she unknowingly traumatizes them with her disturbing behavior and childhood fears. It seems that her mother's past though gone, has come to haunt Saffe in a different way.
My Review:
At the beginning of this book, I was unsure whether or not I would enjoy this book. The more I read I felt the misery of Joann and Saffe her daughter. I felt the pains and stings of heart break and yearning. Not to mention the brunt fears they faced and ache of absence of father and mother.  Author Suzanne Fields captures the emotions the main characters feel so well that I wondered if I wanted to read on!  But I kept reading, and began seeing glimpses of hope and redemption for the characters (and me!).  The manner in which each character feels things deeply draws a reader in...I love this element.  By the middle and end of the book, I was glad to have not been discouraged by the really sad happenings that set the book into play.

The characters are quite memorable. The parts they play in this book remarkable and relatable. I have to say relatable for at some instances the characters seemed to have conversations and situations that hit close to home. I love seeing them grow into becoming who they are at the end of the book. I am so thankful to have read the Painted Table, for I believe that everyone may find ways in which to grow, become whole, and deal with their own painted table.
 This book is quite interesting and I have to admit in some places the tone was scary and dark. The mind can be a dark place, and author Suzanne Field captures the downward spiral of Joann's life quite well. Yet at the same time, I find the contrast of dark to light quite riveting and emotional. Somewhere in the plot, a switch is turned on in Joann's oldest daughter, Sapphire (Sapphe). The whispered promise of a different life, sparks a small ember of light in her heart. I as a reader welcomed the drastic difference from beginning to the ending of the book. And Author Field has a wonderful ending to it, that I was not prepared for. I simply loved it.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Personally, this was a book that I would not have picked out for myself; as I am not fond of dealing with psychological characters. But I am glad to have read this book. You cannot judge a book by its cover or in my case its back cover writing. I simply recommend this book in spite of my inclination to avoid matters of psychosis. By the end of this book I am left with a new found interest in the challenge of having a more positive mindset and not minding the "trivial" things in life.

Book Info

About the book: A beautiful heirloom ingrained with family memory has become a totem of a life Saffee would rather forget---a childhood disrupted by her mother's mental illness.
Saffee does not want the table. By the time she inherits the object of her mother's 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. But as an adult with a family of her own, Saffee must confront her mother's torment if she wants to defend herself against it.

Traversing four generations over the course of a century, The Painted Table is an epic portrait of inherited memory, proclivity, and guilt. It is a sprawling narrative affirmation that a family artifact---like a family member---can bear the marks of one's entire past . . . as well as intimations of one's redemption.

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About the author: Suzanne Field, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, has taught English as a Second Language in China, Ukraine, and Hawaii. She has also been a magazine editor and home-school teacher. She and her husband have five children and divide their time between Kansas and Hawaii where she is a tutor and mentor.

Learn more about Suzanne at: