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Monday, February 3, 2014

A White Wind Blew: A Novel

I was in the mood for a period piece this weekend, so I picked up James Markert's A White Wind Blew and was blown away with the reminder of how much music can impact our lives for the better.

Dr. Wolfgang Pike is a doctor who desperately wants to return to his life in the clergy, but the with tuberculosis raging through the country, his skills are needed at Waverly Hills sanitarium. Since his wife, Rose, died years before, Wolfgang has been trying to finish his requiem in her honor. He can never get it quite right. One day, a concert pianist is checked into Waverly and Wolfgang sees his chance to bring patients together to make music for his patients on a bigger level than just him.

Such a lovely, lovely novel with such deep pathos and open heart. You can't not love Wolfgang for all that he is and all that he strives to be. He is such a good man with faults of course, although compared to me he is an absolute saint. He is a man who strives to be his best and to give all that he has to those in need. The way he cares for a young pregnant woman, Mary Sue, allowing her to see her dying husband and give birth to her baby just down the hall from him was one of my favorite moments in this book. I was moved by his platonic love and care for this woman. Wolfgang's love for all his patients and for humanity in general is overwhelming.

I also really enjoyed the weaving of the requiem through this book; it was a storyline that lead us through the story arc and allowed the work to grow and bend and move in such a way that it carried the story as if on a flying carpet, over Waverly Hills and into the world at large. Humanity was at the center of this story, and the requiem line allowed us to view Wolfgang at his most vulnerable and at his most thoughtful, while also allowing us as the audience to watch him use it for a greater good. The beauty was in the creation of the work.

Markert's prose was beautiful, and I am fascinated by his use of tuberculosis as the crux of all that followed. Whether it was the side storylines of the KKK's presence, dealing with the ramifications of WWI in the patient (and doctor) population, bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition, or dealing with music therapy as a true form of treatment of the human spirit, the underlying current was always this disease that stole too many too soon. It was really lovely, and I am thankful I have had the opportunity to indulge in this novel.

Kindle version on left, hard copy on right.

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