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Saturday, February 23, 2008

cover of Promised Land

I've read this book so many times, and I know it's not great literature, but it's such a delightful, entertaining, pleasant book that I often find myself reading it again. I guess it is my reading equivalent of comfort food (I read it in a single night once). I needed something to lighten the bleak, heaviness of Watchmen, and this is what I thought of and grabbed off the shelf. It's an entertaining story, again the "married first, fall in love second" that there are so many versions of, but with the trappings of a rough colony planet and the humorous escapades of an outsider, a "been-to" coming back from off-world and unfamiliar with the local ways.

I think the reason this book, and these kinds of stories, are so compelling is because it's a picture of unconditional love. A former pastor once said that we know perfect love not because we are capable of giving it or because we have received it, but because we know how we want to be loved. And near the end of the story, when you finally get all the details and find out how blindly and completely Sonny loves Delanna, it's a taste of that. He puts up with all the crazy things she does and the hurtful things she says, and he has no expectations from her; as soon as he sees how beautiful and educated she is he knows she doesn't belong on his primitive planet, but he still wants to show her the land and the beautiful flowers she used to love as a child. Sonny is generally so careful and thoughtful about things, but eventually we find out that he took off across the shifting, unsafe landscape in a broken solar the moment he heard Delanna was coming. He even tries to accommodate her leaving and getting money to go off planet, even though he knows it will force him and his brothers to abandon their land for ten years and go work in the mines to get by, but he never treats he never seems to think of himself when Delanna is involved.

The one thing that bugs me about this book (and I think it bothers me more every time I read it) is the last few lines. There are other things that are slightly out of character earlier in the book (like Delanna beginning to interpret and speak for the laconic Sonny when she's hardly seen him for a few hours), but for some reason I can put up with that. But at the end Sonny and Delanna suddenly forget that they are already married by the laws of the land (when they have argued about it and danced around it and avoided it for months by this time), and the only reason I can figure this happens is so the authors can get in what they think is a clever last line, but I find it disappointing and unsatisfying.

Title:Promised Land
Author:Connie Willis & Cynthia Felice
Date published:1997
Genre:Science Fiction / Romance
Number of pages:368
Notes:repeat reading


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