bookshelves: published-2014, net-galley, e-book, spring-2014, sci-fi, religion, christian, little-green-men, epistolatory-diary-blog, environmental-issues
Read from May 02 to 15, 2014
Crown Publishing. Hogarth,
Description: A monumental, genre-defying novel over ten years in the making, from the internationally bestselling author of The Crimson Petal and the White. The Book of Strange New Things tells the story of Peter Leigh, a devoted man of faith called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him literally light years away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment and the ego-gratifying work of ministering to a native population hungry for the Bible–this “book of strange new things.” But he soon begins to receive increasingly desperate letters from home. North Korea is devastated by a typhoon; the Maldives are wiped out by a tsunami; England endures an earthquake, and Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
A separation measured in galaxies, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. Peter’s and Bea’s trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and the responsibility we have to others.
‘I was going to say something’, he said.
‘So say it’, she said.
He was quiet, keeping his eyes on the road. In the darkness of the city’s outskirts, there was nothing to see except the tail-lights of other cars in the distance, the endless unfurling roll of tarmac, the giant utilitarian fixtures of the motorway.
According to the advance blurb from Chicago Tribune this is ‘deliciously dirty’ so I’d better put on my splash mask.
When Peter signed up as inter-galactic missionary it was the kiss of death to planet Earth, or that is how Beatrice construed it.
The dual storyline is reconciled by letters of disintegrating communication between Bea and Peter, she dealing with climate change issues on earth, and he ministering to the indiginous population.
And hovering in the background is the disappearence of two men from the base, Kurtzberg and Tartaglione:
‘They didn’t vanish overnight. It was kinda gradual. They would come back to base less and less often. They became…distant. Didn’t want to stick around.’
For most of The Book of Strange New Things it felt like HEART OF DARKNESS IN SPAAAAACE, not least because one of the missing men was called Kurtzberg.
I don’t know which book that Chicago Tribune bod read; it couldn’t have been this one as this proved to be tame on all levels.