Sunday, July 03, 2011

Where Rainbows End – Cecelia Ahern

For the first two-thirds of this book I was quite gripped. The story is a familiar one: two people who are clearly meant for each other, but through one thing and another – bad luck, stupid mistakes - it doesn’t quite work out, until finally, everything becomes clear and they all live happily ever after. And for most of the book, I rode the waves and troughs, hoping and looking forwards to the final conclusion. Until, that is, the end of part 3, which unleashed just one twist too many. And when two main characters do eventually get together, I’d long since reached the point where for me it felt too late.

This kind of troubled me. To have a few twists and turns before eventually getting together – that was a storyline I could cope with. (Home, anybody?) But how many twists and turns is too many? The characters in Home break up at 17 and 20 (ish), and get together again at 28 and 31. That still leaves them time to spend most of their lives together. At the end of said part 3, the characters in this book are early 30s. But when they finally do get together, they’re in their 50s, and I somehow feel that by then it’s very much a consolation prize rather than lifelong fulfilment.

Ok, maybe I’m ageist. Maybe it’s because I’m very much of the age in between those and therefore feel unreasonably that this is the age that counts. Who knows why, but at the end of the book I felt that the ending didn’t really justify all the angst the author had put the poor characters through on the way there. That’s why it’s taken me a while to write down my feelings about this book.

But then I had a thought. Maybe the reason that doesn’t feel like a satisfying conclusion to me is because my relationship with God has left me just a bit spoilt?After all, so many times through the Bible, God makes the best of a bad job, and not only that, but somehow manages to produce something out of the ruins that’s even more beautiful than what was there to start with. God's people reject him by asking for a King (1 Samuel?), but from that royal line comes none other than Jesus himself. The Bible starts with a garden but ends with a city – starts with God creating two people in the unfulfilled hope that they will choose to love him, but ends up with a an almost countless number of worshippers.

Maybe for a lot of people life would be bearable if they had a thought that they might arrive at whatever their desired goal is, in the end, whatever the troubles in the meanwhile. But that’s not enough for me. Brought up on a diet of Grace beyond comprehension, I want it all – to have my cake and eat it; to be repaid for the years the locusts have eaten (see Joel). A recipe for disappointment, you might think. But not for me. On occasions to numerable to count, that has simply been my everyday experience of a life lived with God.

But then, a story like that - who could make it up? Fiction is bounded by what we find believable. God, fortunately, is under no such limitation.