4 out of 4 stars
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Letters from the Love Room: Mapping the Landscape of Loss by Corinne Martin is a beautiful, tear-jerking, hope-breathing compilation of letters the author penned to her beloved Aunt Min after she passed away in 2010 (102 years of age). Martin had a very intimate relationship with her aunt, whom she took care of during the last years of her life. The author was overcome with grief when her aunt died but she still felt her presence even though she was gone. This led her to the concept that every close relationship is “a kind of love room, made up of truths and dreams and wrenching work that only two persons can share. “She wrote to her aunt from the love room for four years to keep the love room lively.
The book is composed of a prologue, introduction; the letters to Aunt Min in chronological order (each of the four years is a chapter) and an epilogue. The prologue and epilogue are both free verse poems that fittingly begin and end the book respectively. In the introduction we are told about the love room concept mentioned above. The letters to Aunt Min vary in length and content but one thing that is constant, but they are all so thought-provoking.
I truly enjoyed this book. Martin, had it professionally edited, so it was virtually free of any grammatical or formatting errors. However, the genuine love and grief that the author poured out through her writing were kept fully intact after the editing process. Martin shares how losing Aunt Min helped her to connect intimately with the many family members that she was not even aware that she had in Louisiana. She also found herself attracted to nature and the beautiful Southern lands. The letters I enjoyed the most was those where Martin described magnificent landscapes and used such poetic language that I found myself highlighting entire paragraphs to be able to come back and read them again.
This book would greatly help those who have also lost close loved-ones or those who want to have a more compassionate outlook on grief. Since it is mainly letters, one can feel at liberty to read it in any order that they deem fit. Martin had days when all she wanted to do was sit and do nothing and she had days that she felt the light of hope shining on her. The road of grief is not linear and sometimes we find ourselves in the mountain of joy and the back in the river of tears. The author does a great job Mapping the Landscape of Loss and showing us that there is hope once we are in the land of the living.
I cannot find much fault in this book. The book cover was intriguing, and I was pleased that some pictures of Aunt Min and the family were placed in convenient places throughout the book.
I do believe it imperative to address a very predominant theme in this book – religious views. Martin is an interfaith minister and spiritual director. Throughout the book, we see that the author is open to the Buddhist beliefs but not totally in agreement with everything they teach. She also beliefs that “everything is a little bit of God.” Of course, she ponders the afterlife numerous times but there is never reference to the Christian worldview. Many persons would rather not read a book that sponsors difference in opinions when it comes to religion.
Without further ado, I rate Letters from the Love Room 4 out of 4 stars. There are things here that I do not agree with as a Christian but I cannot deny that this is a beautifully composed book.
Letters from the Love Room
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