The Magic of Ordinary Days Review
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How many epic novels and movies have played against the backdrop of World War II? Once it seemed as if we would never shake free of the congratulatory epics that served primarily to applaud our country's valor and wisdom and strength. Here now is another story set during that war, yet the scope of this novel is more modest and also quite different. It celebrates strength of a different sort.

This a lovely book, even though a quick read of the plot might suggest otherwise. Ms. Creel tells the story of a single woman, Olivia Dunne, who becomes pregnant. She has almost completed her master's degree in history. However, her father, a minister, compels her into a marriage of convenience. Her mother could not help her, as she had died the year before. Other factors and other players enter in, but this is Livy's story, and Ms. Creel lets her tell it with a pleasing eye for detail and a certain amount of emotional detachment.

"Across the plain, the land shook free of mountain, hill, and mesa, becoming instead long and close-fit to the earth's contours, as a sheet fits a bed. Wild sunflowers grew in patches just feet away from the tracks. They made me remember something Mother once said to me. I had everyone beat in the eyes. Mine, she had said…were as big and as deeply brown as sunflower centers."

How confidently Ms. Creel writes, to move from describing a landscape that she compares to the domestic image of a made bed, to such a personal and cherished recollection. The story makes lots of little leaps like that, passing over days and weeks both forward and backward in time, between people and landscapes. Yet the leaps are landed so effortlessly and the significant moments are captured so well that the book flies right by, as all happy moments often do. A pleasure.

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