Saturday, 21 February 2009

Book Review.

The Common Bond.
Donigan Merritt.

The story follows Morgan's return to Hawaii 10 years after meeting Victoria, the love of his life who has since died. Haunted by grief he takes up fishing again in an effort to escape the sense of guilt he feels by her suicide. The story moves with ease between the present and the past describing the beginnings of their encounter involving the betrayal of Tioni, a local guy that Victoria was seeing when she first meets Morgan, a ‘haelo’, white person. Tioni and Morgan had been friends since childhood and worked together on a tourist boat of which Morgan was Captain. The love between Morgan and Victoria shatters more than friendship by unearthing historical tensions and racial prejudice.

Told through a series of flashbacks the reader becomes privy to the vulnerable fragile and ultimately tragic development of Victoria, in contrast to the steady down to earth character presented in Morgan before he spirals towards uncontrollable meltdown. The central themes of love vs. the human condition are handled by Merritt with compassion and empathy; injecting the reader with same raw emotion the two main characters experience both individually and in their relationship with each other.

I did wonder how well the story would hold up with the reader already in possession of the outcome that Victoria is no longer alive, but the conclusion is satisfying and the language rich and evocative capturing the truth about relationships as we travel with Morgan into despair until hope is offered through the unlikely porthole of a local family.

The Common Bond is not a book I would instinctively have chosen to read, but on completion felt rewarded and gratified by the experience. Possessed by Shadows, written by the same author, is winging it's way to my door as we speak and I look forward with anticipation to it's arrival.


  1. Good review. I found Don's manipulation of tense within the first chapter very telling in regards to theme, content, and how memory can constantly intrude in destructive fashion.

    I've wondered how TCB would read if it were structured in a manner similar to Possessed. I don't think it'd really work because the narrators are not time consistent, but that's one of the things I think about as I read the book.

    You should do more book reviews.

  2. Thanks Brad, I enjoyed the reading and the reviewing and might give it another go.

  3. Great review! I'm looking forward to reading the book.

    I'm also looking forward to reading the posts of yours that I'm behind on... I always enjoy them.

    I envy you and the others that do such fun and interesting posts on a regular basis. I've been working on a book and I find it hard to balance that writing with the blog writing. How do people do it?

  4. Oh Kim, I'm so glad you read the review, I hope I did Don's work justice.

    The answer to your question is...procrastination!
    I envy people working on books and I may have to curb the blogging for a while if I want to get any serious work done.

    Hope you are all fully recovered now - great to have you back.

    I'm off to bed now, but I'll catch up with your new post tomorrow.

  5. It is a practice of long-standing that I do not respond to reviews or reviewers of my books, whether good, bad, or indifferent, unless there is an error in the review that needs to be corrected. Regardless, I was pleased to read boxofficegirl's review of TCB because I both value and am interested in her opinion as a reader.

    I'm actually commenting here to Kim.

    For myself, and most of the writers I know who maintain some sort of webblog, there are two things going on. In some cases, writers use their blogs to test ideas and experiment with styles and ideas they may not yet be ready to turn into something substantial. For others, it is the newest version of an activity to assuage writers block ... the new way to sharpen pencils and dust the furniture ... with the additional benefit of actually writing something. Journals are good for this, too.

    I am not one of those writers who uses his blog to test ideas or experiment with styles. The "literary" content of my blog is more general and with an "educational" purpose. (Okay, I confess that it started out as and continues in many ways to be a way to get my work to a wider reading public -- and sell more books.) The lengthy spaces between posts usually means that my work is going well. More frequent posts means I am sharpening pencils and dusting furniture.

    So, Kim, that's how people do it.

    I will be looking forward to finding what you think of TCB when you get a chance to read it.

    But I am especially curious to see reviews or hear from people (other than the professional reviewing corps) who have read both of the current two books in print: TCB and Possessed by Shadows. I am interested in both literary and "story-telling" impressions in the comparison.

    I like one of these books more than the other, but probably for different reasons than an average reader might have.

    So, if you have read both of these books, or when/if you get around to reading both of them, I hope to hear from you about them.

  6. Yes, procrastination is a good friend of mine as well. Sigh.

    Don, thanks for your comment. Very helpful.

  7. Hi lovely lady, I have so enjoyed getting to know you and reading your blogs I've given you a bloggie.) Please stop by and pick it up.

    Thank you, you are really appreciated.)


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