Forever Friday is the story of an old-worldly romance, of complete devotion and sentiment of a kind that is seldom seen in this day and age.
He also learns that the Alexanders never meant their Friday postcards to ever be seen by strange eyes. But Colby is intrigued, and must know more. After being married for 12 years, Colby was heartbroken when his wife, Haley, told him that there was somebody else in her life and that that she wanted out. Colby hopes that through a reading of the postcards he will get a glimpse of where he and Haley went wrong.
But a mere reading of the poems leaves him no closer to understanding the life story of the couple. In order to make sense of the poems, Colby attempts to get an insight into the Alexanders’ extraordinary story by talking to various people, including a neighbor, some relatives of the couple and Yevette, the daughter of Priscilla, their housekeeper of 26 years.
Colby’s journey towards understanding the mystery of how the Alexanders could have stayed so committed to each other for 60 years is greatly hastened by Yevette, who has always been treated by the Alexanders as a granddaughter. Yevette has learned of their story from Huck herself.
Through Colby’s conversations with Yevette, we come to know about the romance that hinges on the Friday postcards. Yevette reveals that when Gabe came to know that the husband of a waitress who worked at the diner where he ate had let her know that he was leaving her through a postcard, he recalled a letter that his father had written to his mother. It contained a two-line poem which his mother had treasured all her life. There and then Gabe made the decision that he would never let an opportunity go by to let his wife know how he felt about her.
We also come to know of Huck’s early years with her large family, her relationship with her mother and with her childhood friend-turned-fiance-turned-ex-fiance. Their individual stories, told in third person, are told separately, then merged to form one single thread after their marriage.
Presiding over their life is Mister Jack, a vagrant drifter who has a real/imaginary conversation with the ten-year-old Huck and who seemingly appears at the most crucial moments of her life to save her, acquiring in her eyes, the aura of a guardian angel.
I liked the character of Pearl for picking the name Huck at the age of seven and for insisting that “slavery, thank goodness, had ended during the last century.” That line sets the stage for our understanding of the kind of person that she was. I also liked Gabe for the large-hearted, benevolent, inherently good man he was.
Through the course of their romance, which does not end with Gabe’s death after 60 years of marriage, Lewis takes us on a roller coaster ride with Huck and Gabe as they navigate the tricky terrain that is marriage, experiencing the same obstacles that other couples do, but fighting them with a firm devotion to each other, faith in God and mutual respect. They are also driven by a fierce determination not to let the Long Division, Gabe’s theory of how the most loving couples end up drifting apart because shared interests give way to singly held ones, driving them away from each other.
I commend Lewis for writing such a sweet story about love, marriage and commitment. He has been able to capture the excitement of a newlywed couple. This is not a relationship in which partners endure each other for the sake of doing time. The only weak link in the story is that while Lewis puts his heart and soul into the characters and the story of the Alexanders, the characters of Colby and Yevette, and the hint of the beginning of their relationship, supposedly the second part of the story, comes across as flat and insipid in comparison.
The simmering feelings between Colby and Yevette never stand out very strongly, nor is it completely evident how Colby intends to apply the lessons he has learned from the older couple’s history to his next relationship, should he have a second chance.
Read this book for the story of Pearl and Gabe. This is romance, fresh, pure, unrestrained. That which remains alive because somebody keeps stoking the fire. Lewis give us the secret of a happily ever after in every sense of the word, and while he is at it, he also lets out the secret for baking moist cakes. Bonus points for the pretty book cover, with the sepia toned images of the postcards.
The descriptions of the lives and times of the Alexanders are reminiscent of the traditions of America’s best writers, and evoke the railroads, malls and hotels that dot the economy and industry of America.
This is a charming story and worth reading all the way. Now can someone tell me how I can get the Husband to read it?
I received a copy of Forever Friday for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.
(This post has been written for the Ultimate Blog Challenge, October 2013.)