Firstly, my review of the fiction novel, Travelers Rest by Ann Tatlock is very late, because I just received the book in the mail. Based on the title alone- this book isn't what I expected. After completing two thirds of the book, I learned that the title is taken from a small town named Travelers Rest- which holds an unexpected yet common significance in the lives of two seperate characters- a young woman and an old retired doctor- whose lives cross paths. Nevertheless the title may have a double meaning because the main characters find true emotional rest and peace in the end of the book.
This book is about a young, 25 year old woman, Jane, who feels duty bound to honor her commitment to marry her fiance Seth who was paralyzed from the neck down as a result of a bullet wound he sustained in Iraq. Her strong sense of moral duty is the driving force behind her thoughts and actions as she struggles to cope with the choice of whether to marry Seth or to move forward and face life without him. Basically her life appears to center around the pragmatic fact that she simply does not want to be alone the rest of her life. She has an optomistic, yet naive picture of the future as a caretaker for her fiance. She even mentions how she spent 6 months doing internet research to learn what it is like to care for a quadraplegic in preparation for a life with her fiance. On the otherhand, Seth is bitter, angry and depressed at the loss of his health and independance. He does not want to be a burden and Jane simply serves as a painful reminder of his past.
At one point of the story when Seth experiences a life threatening episode of autonomic dysreflexia due to a blocked catheter, Jane has no idea what is happening. She is confronted with the fact that she isnt the expert on paralysis as she thought she was. I find this difficult to believe she is caught offguard because information on this common condition which afflicts paralyzed patients is widely available on any internet website about c-spine injuries. If she claims she actually did 6 months of research, surely she would have been familiar with the condition. In fact as a reader, when the symptoms Seth first experienced were mentioned, I knew right away what it was. In fact all caretakers of paralyzed people must be educated on the symptoms and causes of this common yet life threatening condition. Eventually Seth dies unexpectedly due to health complications coupled with his lack of will to survive. His "convienient" death essentially is the answer to Jane's dilema and it leaves her free to pursue another unexpected love interest two years later into the story.
In the end, it is intereseting to see how the lives of Jane and the retired doctor are tied together with a common bond from Janne's childhood. The ending is too perfect in the way all the pieces come to gether- much like a fairy tale in which the beautiful princess and hero gets married. The doctor finds the redemption and forgiveness he spent his entire lifetime seeking- and gets married to boot! It almost seems that the message of this book focuses on the neccesity of marriage to feel complete in contrast to faith and dependance on God. This is a very good story about characters with strong morals with unexpected twists- but the ending is just too perfect in stark contrast to real life. As a blogger I recieved this book from Bethany Hous ePublishers for the purpose of writing this review.