Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 3rd, 2010

Open Season on the Widow(er): More about Debbie Macomber’s “Hannah’s List”

with 3 comments

Before I start into today’s blog, I want to first point you to the book review I just did at Shiny Book Review:

I had a hard time containing my rage and frustration after reading Hannah’s List.  There are so very many things wrong with this book — and all of them start with the premise: why would a man who’s grieving get a letter from his dead wife (written as she lay dying) asking him to remarry forthwith because he should have children — as if children are owed to him in her view — and then give a list of three disparate women who, in Hannah’s view, would make her husband Michael an excellent second wife?

Most if not all of you know I am a widow, and thus, Michael the doctor’s plight is not unknown to me.  Anniversaries are hard — the first one in particular, but they never get any easier, and grief has its own cycle — one that doesn’t obey any time clocks — that the widow or widower must endure.

Doctor Michael Everett, the hero of Hannah’s List, has been grieving for one year — apparently author Macomber thought this was just much too long for a vibrant man in his late-thirties — and we’re supposed to believe that Hannah, his wife, is a selfless, caring, giving saint for finding three women she thinks will appeal to her husband to succeed her after her death.

Excuse me, but when did this woman die and become God(dess)?  I mean, isn’t it up to Michael — the widower — to decide when or even if to date again?  And certainly, if he had the sense to pick Hannah in the first place and she was so damned good for him, why wouldn’t Hannah realize that he still has that good common sense that led him to her in the first place, so he’s still capable of finding another good woman by himself?  And that he doesn’t need to be led by the hand in order to find someone else?

Some of the feelings Michael the widower had in this book didn’t ring true to me, either.  From page 318:

How well she knew me, how well she’d known how I’d react once she left this world.  But for the first time since I’d lost her, I felt not only alive, but — to my complete surprise — happy.  I saw now that her letter had freed me; it’d given me permission to live.  The letter, with her list, was a testament of her love.

Once again, we have the saintly Hannah, and the barely-thinking, barely-able-to-reason Michael — who is of all things a doctor and should understand at bare minimum what the grief cycle is all about — and I just don’t buy it.

Either this man had the sense he was born with to pick wisely once, so he can pick wisely a second time without being led by the hand, or he didn’t — but if he didn’t, he needs a lot more help than the manipulative, meddling Hannah could ever possibly give him.

There are not words for how much I profoundly disliked and despised this book, and I hadn’t expected to feel this way as I have enjoyed just about every other book Debbie Macomber has ever written — most especially the ones featuring scatterbrained angels Shirley, Goodness and Mercy.  Those are funny, heartwarming and even healing books that make me laugh and think.

But all Hannah’s List made me think was this: open season on the widow(er).  Because apparently Ms. Macomber does not believe a widow, or widower, can think for him or herself and must be led, kicking and screaming, back into life by the first available man (or woman, or alien, or whatever) who’s willing to take an interest before it’s too late.


Written by Barb Caffrey

October 3, 2010 at 6:28 am

Two New Book Reviews up at Shiny Book Reviews sister site.

leave a comment »

Folks, I have been writing up a storm this week.  First I finished getting onto paper the 11,000+ words of my Writers of the Future story (can’t tell you the title or I’ll be immediately disqualified), then I started going over my and Michael’s stories that are currently up at e-Quill Publishing in order so they can be submitted to Smashwords (Lawrence, publisher of e-Quill, believes this will greatly improve the visibility and marketability of my and Michael’s writing and I sincerely hope he’s right), and finally, I wrote two new book reviews tonight for this blog’s sister site, Shiny Book Reviews.

The two new reviews are for Alison Weir’s excellent history Queen Isabella and Michael Schaffer’s satirical and pointed One Nation Under Dog: America’s Love Affair with our Dogs.  These were both excellent, intelligent and engrossing books that I heartily enjoyed reading; it was a pleasure reviewing them.

At any rate, here are the direct links to those two new reviews:

Alison Weir review:

Michael Schaffer review:

Go read ’em!  You’ll be glad you did.  (Or at least I will.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 3, 2010 at 2:58 am