Teenager Sally has just run away from a clinic where she is to be treated for anorexia. She’s furious with everything and everyone, and wants to be left in peace. Liss is in her forties, living alone on a large farm that she runs single- handedly. She has little contact with the outside world, and no need for other people.
From their first meeting, Sally realises that Liss isn’t like other adults; she
The first night lengthens into weeks as Sally starts to find pleasure in working with the bees, feeding the chickens, and harvesting potatoes. Eventually an unlikely friendship develops and these two damaged women slowly open up – connecting to each other, reconnecting with themselves, and facing the darkness in their pasts through their shared work on the land.
I always think it is a mark of a talented author particularly a male that somehow manages to understand the female psyche, to write a whole novel driven by two female protagonists.
Let’s start with Sally a young teenager on the run from a clinic fed up of being told what to do or more importantly what to feel.
She headed, unbeknown to herself to Lisa’s farm, a woman alone, ostracised by the local villagers, with an inherent sense of quiet resilience, a past mired in mystery.
Their relationship formed the brilliance of Arenz’s novel, his perception of their feelings of their emotions was to me astonishing. How could he drill down so perfectly on a young teenagers rebellion against her parents, authority, and at some points her own self. Liss, contained but never one to ask or press Sally, a quiet acknowledgment and understanding that they were the same.
I enjoyed Arenz use of the farming landscape, of the simple acts of gathering crops, of waking up to a glorious autumn sunrise, how it gave Sally peace, a full stop in the perpetual circle of fighting what others thought she should do. Yet Arenz knew their quiet existence would not and could not continue.
Sally’s need to discover Liss’s secrets pushed their quiet understanding to the limits, the encroaching encirclement of Sally’s parents and authorities forced matters to a head. I expected Arenz to bring the novel to its conclusion but no there was more
.Arenz wasn’t finished with Sally and Liss, there was more they had to say, more they had to learn about themselves and indeed each other. There was nothing dramatic about it just the slow meticulous unraveling of Liss in particular, their roles somehow swapped, Sally the strong one, the one who perhaps understood what the future may hold for Liss.
Arenz gave us a fitting ending, one where you could look back and admire this quiet, thoughtful novel with a narrative that shouted about so much but most of showcased the talent of a very gifted author.
I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of Tasting Sunlight to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the Blogtour
About the author
Ewald Arenz was born in Nurnberg in 1965, where he now teaches. He has won various national and regional awards for literature; among them the Bavarian State Prize for Literature and the great Nuremberg Prize for Literature. One of seven children, he enjoys nature, woodturning, biking, swimming, and drinking tea. He lives with his family in Germany. #TastingSunlight #JubilantJune @EwaldArenz