Again, on one of my many expeditions to my local library, I came across this novel, “The Long Rain” by Peter Gadol. I had never heard of this writer, but intrigued by the contemporary design of the dust cover, and the brief synopsis on the inset, I found myself willing to give up my two bits, (nobody says that anymore, do they?) or $.25 and pick it up.
It appeared to be one of those what I call “bonus books,” meaning in addition to being a pretty decent read, I would also probably learn something that I didn’t know much about. This time it would be wine making, because the setting of this 298 page first edition novel, published by Picador USA in September 1997, was a seventy-five year old family vineyard in the California wine region.
Also, as the shadow of my years grows, I find myself drawn to book with larger, easy to read font, spaced at 1 & 1/2 lines. This is a big plus in my purchase decisions as well.
So I pulled out my smiley face plastic pocket change purse, and retrieved a quarter, paid the librarian, and left. Interestingly, my little change carrier, was in fact a mini-puppet, that came with a ventriloquist training kit I purchased, many years ago, from the Maher Company, makers and sellers of puppetry supplies.
The ventriloquist dream was never realized, but I’ve carried the change purse for many years. My beloved grandfather, Dave Burns always had one, and I suppose this is where I picked it up.
“The Long Rain” is a novel about the search for redemption I suppose. It’s the story of Jason Dark, an out of work, (and out of hope) lawyer who finds himself back on on what remains of his inheritance, an broken down vineyard. Jason has basically lost everything, his wife Julia, his son Tim. He came to Oak Valley to sell off this remaining piece of property, but instead, found himself rebuilding his life. He began to revitalize the vineyard, his law practice, and his life as well. He along with his reunited wife Julia and son, began to find themselves once again in this small, and once again blossoming California community.
Just as everything was coming back together, one late and rainy night on one of his regular soul searching drives through the mountains, he accidentally hits a local teenage boy.
Then the true story begins….the moral failure that overshadows every thinking man, and our quest for redemption. Though the circumstances change, this is a tale that resonated with familiarity in my own heart. Not literally of course, but in my own life.
I guess that’s why I kept reading.
Peter Gadol really is a wonderful writer. After one of my searches, I did find that some of his other books are written about topics which I personally would not be interested in, but I am thankful that I did stumble across this one. It was a good mystery, and very well executed.
In this brief passage, Jason has just hit the teenage boy, and is kneeling over him in the road:
“I have no idea how long I sat there by the side of the road in the cold rain, how long I sat there with his head in my lap before his eyes opened, round brown eyes, and he looked at me – no through me first, as if I weren’t there at all, and up at the tall trees instead, and then back at me finally, focusing on my face, searching my face, reading my face. It wasn’t like he was asking me for help, and he wasn’t absolving me, and he didn’t even look angry with me, just confused, just baffled, just lost – Who are you? That was what he seemed to be asking me with his eyes. His brown eyes dilating, going black. Who are you?
Then his lips parted as if he might speak. The his mouth opened wide as if he might scream, but no sound came out, not even a gasp. Then his body stopped shuddering and the fingers of his left hand uncurled and the pinecone rolled away. I was still shaking, but he had stilled, and in a matter of seconds, that was it, he was gone – he became as cold as the road beneath me.” (pg 50-51)
“The Long Rain”, is a story of a man trying to self level his life. Though some portrayals of Jason’s romantic interludes with his wife, did surprise me, and are not for children, and the language does waiver infrequently , for the most part, it has been as tastefully written as any secular writer may attempt, and has been successfully and very armchair grippingly presented. “Arm chair grippingly,” pretty neat description don’t you think?
It is a novel that reminds me that honestly in all things is by far the best way to live. Guilt can destroy a person, and if you are a Christian, then you know first hand what it can do. But also, if you are a Christian then you also know where there is a resting place from guilt. That place is on our knees.
Like Jason Dark in this story, how many mistakes I have made, and wished that I could go back and do the right thing from the start. How many failures…how many regrets. It is only because I know Christ that I can live today, knowing that my past doesn’t necessarily have to be my future.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 KJV
My hat is off to you Mr. Peter Gadol, for your wonderful ability to tell a story. My prayer is someday that you find yourself in the genre of Christian fiction, as with your God given talent and abilities, you will have an impact on the Kingdom.