Every now and then, a book comes along that I can't put down. And not only can't I stop reading, the story and the characters stick with me after I've finished the book. The Painted Table by Suzanne Field is one of those books.
The plot is intriguing. Over the course of her life, Saffee watches her mother descend into mental illness, and she watches as her father tries to protect her mother from the consequences of her mental illness. Part of the way her mother tries to cope with her descent into madness is by painting, repainting, and painting again a table from her childhood. After Saffee marries, she inherits the table. She doesn't want the table; she fears the table and what it represents of her mother's illness. But her husband encourages her to restore the table, and through this restoration project, Saffee's heart is healed.
This is truly a beautifully written story. I felt as though I were standing next to Saffee throughout her life, experiencing firsthand the ups and downs as she experienced them. The pain and embarrassment and awkwardness Saffee felt drew me in, and I found myself pulling for her family, including her mentally ill mother. Honestly, I was afraid that the book might be depressing. It doesn't have a perfect Hollywood ending; instead there is true to life joy that has sprung out of the sorrow.
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