I fell in love with Clara Kip when on first meeting. She was perfect, almost. I didn’t tell my wife.
There were, of course, a couple of problems. First, at 79 she really was too old for me. And she was dying.
We probably could have overcome those obstacles. What we couldn’t get past was that Clara Kip is fictional.
Sara Brunsvold has created such a compelling character in The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip that I was convinced this woman is real. Brunsvold takes us on an indeed extraordinary journey through life and death, with a glimpse of life afterward.
In Clara Kip she has created a strong senior citizen who reminds me of some of the women I have been privileged to know. Feisty, independent, modest, with a strong love for others. Unwilling to accept aging as more than a number and death as more than transition to a new and better life.
I was hooked from the first line, which reads: Clara Kip had prayed to die in Sao Paulo. It truly seemed the smallest of requests. People died in Brazil every day. What was one more?
From there on I wanted to know more about this woman, who faces adversity with a smile and a firm belief that God is in control, even in the bad times. Though she didn’t always think that way, as we discover as her story unfolds.
When I was offered review copy of this novel I waffled. There are so many books, and so little time. Occasionally I review asomething that appears like it will be “chick lit,” fiction geared specifically to women. After all, there are women in my household who appreciate such novels and like to read the books once I have finished with them. But it had been a couple of months since my last “chick lit” review, so I took a chance with a author and her debut novel.
This is no women’s book, even if it does have a couple of female protagonists. This is a book that will make you laugh, maybe make you cry – and then make you think about what it means to be an elderly person in our society.
This is a novel about unrequited dreams and coming to terms with the now and the not yet. This is a book about what it means to be fully human.
Aidyn Kelley has no desire to meet Clara Kip. The young journalist has overstepped her boundaries at the newspaper she works for and her editor has assigned her to interview the dying old woman and write her obituary. It is a punishment assignment for someone who wants to write more than fluff pieces. No-one has ever heard of Clara Kip, and probably no-one will read the obituary of such an ordinary woman.
Yet, as Aidyn discovers, there is more to Mrs. Kip than meets the eye. What looks like an ordinary life has in many ways been anything but. Discovering the extraordinary requires a Scheherazade-like performance and some effort. As Aidyn digs deeper and makes more discoveries there is at first respect, then admiration and friendship for someone who, in a very short period, becomes her mentor, inspiration and spiritual guide.
The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip will entertain you with its story telling, while at the same time challenging you to think about life and death and how we approach it. I am so glad I had a chance to meet Clara Kip in this way.
You might want to meet her too.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications Inc.“