The Carousel is the second book I have read by Richard Paul Evans; the first one was The Locket (which I read over a year ago, before I started writing this blog). This book is a sequel to The Locket, and follows the continued life of the two main characters, Michael Keddington and his girlfriend, Faye. The main theme in the book is love: Michael and Faye are separated when she goes away to medical school, and during the several months that follow, a variety of tragic and trying events occur. However, The Carousel is much more than just a coherent collection of plot elements; Evans writes about the character’s thoughts and feelings in ways that express universals about love and meaning and what is truly important. His style is unique and beautiful, and his words convey a raw intensity of emotion. In fact, the main word I thought of when I finished the book was “raw”. I felt that my emotions had been pulled at in a multitude of ways while I was deeply engrossed in reading. Because of this rawness, it was perhaps not the wisest choice for a solo trip involving plane travel and hotels; it is perhaps better to read Evans’ books when one is in a completely comfortable and safe environment.
Even though I feel that Evans’ words are quotable, I am finding it difficult to find good, representative quotes as I flip through the book now. It is a short book and if my description at all interests you I recommend that you read it yourself. However, here are some quotes that somewhat illustrate what I was trying to describe above:
Pine is a verb that is seldom used by my generation, yet it is the word that best described my feelings at that time. I pined for Faye. I dreamt of her. I woke in the morning thinkng of her. In my solitary moments I reviewed the mental tapes of our last day and night together, the memory bringing a subtle smile to my lips and the dull ache of separation to my chest.
In the Arcadia [a retirement home], I had seen death prayed for, begged for, sometimes anticipated like some long-awaited excursion. I had seen families walk away from loved ones with red-rimmed eyes but hearts of peace murmuring that it was all for the best… Suicide wears a heavier cloak. It is a psychological land mine, killing, maiming, and scarring not just the hapless who tripped it, but all those in its vicinity.
‘We can’t even promise our time. It’s not ours to give. The best we can promise is our hearts. And the most we can hope for is to live each moment so when it’s all over, there are no regrets.’
Evans starts each chapter with a quote that is supposed to be from Michael’s journal. I enjoyed this and did not find it cheesy (although some people might think it is), since I like quotes in general and I found that these quotes often expressed something well. A couple of these quotes are:
I do not know why we delude ourselves that life is predictable and safe, when it’s really just a carton of eggs – always just one stumble away from being scrambled.
In the face of the lies told by depression, we must have courage to survive. And courage is best fed by hope. The sun will rise again. The only uncertainty is whether or not we will be there to greet it.
Looking at all the quotes I chose above, I am struck that several of them are on the more depressing end of things. Or perhaps depressing isn’t quite the right word; I feel that they touch truisms in our lives that can be hard to face and accept, and because of that they can be hard to read. Perhaps that is what I mean by raw. But Evans write so sensitively, telling a beautiful story, that it is worth reading and allowing yourself to be moved and touched by these truisms.