The Storm at the Door

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Title: The Storm at the Door
Author: Stefan Merrill Block
Pages: 368
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: June 21, 2011

The Storm at the Door is an interesting and insightful, if very reflective, book loosely based on the lives of the author's grandparents. Katherine Merrill has spent her marriage to Frederick making excuses for his erratic behavior and wondering what happens to the "real" Frederick when he starts acting differently. After a concerning incident, Katherine agrees to have her husband committed to a mental institution, Mayflower. The book alternates back and forth between Katherine's thoughts and experiences and those of Frederick's. While Frederick deals with his own mental health issues and reflects on life in the mental institution, Katherine reflects on their marriage and what it means to be married to a man like Frederick.

This is a uniquely written book. The perspective or narrative style that it's written in was difficult for me to get used to which did affect my ability to connect to it at first. First off, it's written in present tense which I typically do not care for. But second, there is a sort of distant nature to the writing. The reader is introduced to the characters as though we are watching from afar rather than engaging with the characters' stories on a more personal level as is typical in fiction. I was able to forget this the further I read into each chapter, but whenever I noticed it at the beginning of the chapter it threw me off guard a little.

The Storm at the Door did possess a level of insight that was commendable. The theme was essentially the impact of Frederick's mental health issues on their marriage which, despite taking place in a past setting, is completely current as well. Life is difficult for both parties, in different ways, that were genuinely demonstrated through the course of this novel. Due to the smart pacing of the novel, I felt like I could empathize with the characters with each experience they had related to their respective perspectives. The author's writing and use of words to tell the story, too, was so eloquent. His words are those to be read slowly. Thus, this book is not a fast read. The literary nature of this book will enthrall some, while others will have difficulty keeping interest. I say this because I felt one or the other of these feelings at various times throughout the book. A Storm at the Door was well done, especially as it illustrated the effect of Frederick's mental health issues and his experiences at the mental institution as well as for its character studies, but it won't necessarily be accessible to all readers.

I was the last stop on this tour, but check out the prior stops for more reviews:

Monday, June 13th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, June 14th: Book Club Classics
Wednesday, June 15th: Books and Cooks
Thursday, June 16th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Friday, June 17th: Diary of an Eccentric
Tuesday, June 21st: Life in Review
Thursday, June 23rd: Girls Gone Reading
Friday, June 24th: Rundpinne
Saturday, June 25th: Colloquium
Monday, June 27th: Man of La Book
Friday, July 1st: Book Reviews by Molly
Tuesday, July 5th: Crazy for Books
Thursday, July 7th: Raging Bibliomania
Monday, July 11th: Melody & Words
Tuesday, July 12th: Amused by Books


heathertlc said...

Hmm, sorry this book didn't completely work for you. Still, I enjoyed seeing your perspective on it.

Thanks for being on the tour!

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I'v read other reviews of this, yours, I thinks, sums it up nicely. I always enjoy your take.

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