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"FINDING THE NARROW PATH" By Lin Wilder

Posted by Matt McAvoy on Sunday, September 24, 2017 Under: Book Reviews


This is the third of Lin Wilder’s books I’ve read, and the only non-fiction title, the first two being instalments 1 and 2 of her Lindsey McCall series.  It is the memoir of Lin’s own life and her diversion from, then return to religion.  Ironically, and somewhat surprisingly for me, it is the best I’ve read from her, without a shadow of doubt.  I may not be a believer to any degree, yet Lin’s biography had me spellbound, and I simply couldn’t put it down until midway (and even then only because my tablet’s battery died).

I was a tad skeptical before reading “Finding the Narrow Path…”, having advised Lin that faith was as alien to me as any subject could be, and, if I’m totally honest, a little wary of being subjected to pages and pages of scripture interpretation.  But, this couldn’t have been further from the truth: this is not a book about religion, but about Lin’s life, about which religion emerges later as a prominent ingredient; she does not impose her belief, but simply acknowledges its notable role in her life in a matter-of-fact manner. 

This writing style is prevalent through the whole book, and it would be obtuse of the reader not to understand why: her writing style has given her the discipline to be incredibly candid and honest, and, perhaps more notably, immensely courageous, opening up about episodes in her life which must have been pure agony to live through, let alone relive and put on display; I believe there is little, if anything, she has held back.  She makes no excuses for her behaviour – the guilt and shame Lin clearly feels at some of the decisions she has made in life are gifted to the reader by her.  I’m in no doubt this is entirely intentional: her biography is not an exercise in narcissism or vanity, I think it is more therapeutic than that: like her decision to join the Catholic church, it is her absolution.

Lin’s story, while not particularly uncommon, is heartbreaking at times and inspirational at others, and I have a much greater affection for the author now I have read it.  I respect Lin hugely, having read her tale, both for her humanity and her author credentials.  I also realize just how much of herself she puts into her fiction books; I have commented in previous reviews of her work how impressive her professional credentials might be – having read her life story, I am now in no doubt; Lin’s medical career is an outstanding one, and there are a great number of similarities between Lin and her recurring heroine Lindsey McCall, both in terms of their professional experiences and personal traumas; I will, in future, view Ms. McCall’s adventures in an entirely new light.  I also have confirmed now that Lin‘s vast pool of knowledge and experience to draw from is genuine, and most of it her own.

This is an extremely well written book, completely different in pace to Lin’s novels.  It is almost as if the fiction is Lin’s “work” voice, and this is her “true” voice – a very pleasant and endearing one at that; I loved reading it.  Lin is an extremely talented wordsmith, an attribute more apparent in this book of genuine love, perhaps, than her fiction.  I know she will hate me for saying this, and perhaps I am nit-picking, but I feel the punctuation could do with a little polish, otherwise, the prose of this book is perfect.  It is not until the two-thirds point that the language of religion begins proper, but it is not rhetoric – Lin does not preach, but simply narrates her own studies of faith and theology in depth (being Lin, of course, she researched her decision to join the Catholic church thoroughly).  Still, I have to confess that it was around this point that the book became nonsensical to me; this is not down to Lin’s pen – indeed, at these points she is ever more eloquent – but, instead, because of my own inability to comprehend faith; absolution seems to me the main reason people return to faith in middle age, but, as somebody free of guilt in life, the whole concept of it, to me, seems absurd.  Unfortunately (and unfairly, I confess) were I more open to religion, and felt more affiliated to her in this respect, I believe I would have scored Lin the full five stars for her truly excellent writing.

One thing us writers can relate to is Lin’s perhaps fundamental underlying issue: that of an arrogant child not just resolving, but expecting, to achieve, until one day, in mid-life, we realize the path our life has taken has left a very large hole; Lin appears to have been fortunate enough to realize hers could be filled with faith, and though I don’t relate to that, I can certainly understand it.

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In : Book Reviews 


Tags: lin-wilder  non-fiction  autobiography  god  religion  faith  christianity  remorse  redemption  catholic  non-fiction  memoir 
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MARGARET WALKER
Publications:  
One novel, His Most Italian City, published by Penmore Press and half a dozen published short stories.
Author Matt McAvoy
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