Holy Orders, by Carolyn Thorman
A phenomenally good novel. Vida Zedonis, repository of family religious tradition, joins the Sisters of Siluva, a Catholic Order transplanted from Lithuania to West Virginia. Years later, having served a stint in the Order in Lithuania and supervising an underfunded mission to the homeless in her home town of Shackle, her world is shaken by the murder of one of the tenants/inmates, provoking a series of long-brewing crises—not the least of which in Vida herself.
Thorman paints her canvas with gripping imagery, photographic in their detail. She has an unmatched talent for instilling a scene with content. This believability is so persuasive that this reviewer consulted maps to locate Vida’s town of Shackle and the town’s river valley.
The story is rich in double entendres. Holy orders from Rome and its multiplicity of intermediaries that make life so difficult for well-meaning Vida, and the Holy Order of the Sisters who teach complacency and compromise and obscurancy, versus the ‘Holy Order’ of her father Pops, pursuing his own painful adjustments to family. The Pope, the ultimate ‘Father’, source of much of the pain for Vida, versus Pops, the trailer trash nobody, source of more pain, but who can offer his own kind of wisdom. Both Pope and Pops are distant and unhelpful, and both ‘Orders’ are dysfunctional families, and Vida must decide which to live by. In the end Vida chooses, and her wading into the mile-wide Shackle River symbolizes rebirth, a baptism in the ‘holy’ waters of Shackle.
Thorman’s style is evocative and pacing, without digressing into sentiment. A visionary murder mystery set in a believable roller coaster ride against a glittering backdrop of Lithuanian Catholic tradition. Highly recommended. Glenn Lazar Roberts for SiriusReviews.com.
Holy Orders, by Carolyn Thorman,