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The Storm: A Novel

The Storm: A Novel

4.7 11
by Frederick Buechner

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The Boston Globe calls Frederick Buechner "one of our finest writers." USA Today says he's "one of our most original storytellers." Now this acclaimed author gives us his most beguiling novel yet--a magical tale of love, betrayal, and redemption inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest.

On wealthy Plantation Island in South Florida, an


The Boston Globe calls Frederick Buechner "one of our finest writers." USA Today says he's "one of our most original storytellers." Now this acclaimed author gives us his most beguiling novel yet--a magical tale of love, betrayal, and redemption inspired by Shakespeare's The Tempest.

On wealthy Plantation Island in South Florida, an old man waits, Kenzie Maxwell is a writer, a raconteur, a rascal, an altruist, a mystic--a charismatic figure who enjoys life with his rich third wife but muses daily on the sins of his past. Two decades ago, Kenzie had to leave New York because of a scandal. He'd been a volunteer at a runawat shelter, and he'd fallen in love with a seventeen-year-old girl--a girl who died while giving birth to Kenzie's daughter. His older brother, Dalton, a lawyer and board member at the shelter, decided to quell the rumors by releasing Kenzie's note of apology to the press. Kenzie's reputation--and the girl's--were destroyed. He has never forgiven his brother.

Now it's the eve of Kenzie's seventieth birthday, and a storm is brewing. His beloved daughter, Bree--the child of the scandal--is coming down from New York for his birthday party. But his brother Dalton is coming down, too, to do some legal work for the island's ill-tempered matriarch. Aided and abetted by Dalton's happy-go-lucky stepson, a loutish gardener, a New Age windsurfer, a bumbling bishop, and a bona fide tempest, Kenzie must somehow contrive to reconcile with his brother--and make peace with his past.

Infused with humanity, and informed by faith. The Storm is Frederick Buechner's most captivating novel since Godric--a richly satisfying contemporary story of fragmented families and love's many mysteries that will move you, makeyou laugh, and fill you with wonder.

Editorial Reviews

Ft. Worth Morning Star Telegram
THE STORM is nothing less than a modern paraphrase of Shakespeare's The Tempset; and it is entirely wonderful.
San Diego Reader
For all its charm and lilt, THE STORM, like any among Buechner's best novels, cannot be taken lightly.
Ruth Coughlin
...[Reinterprets] "The Tempest" by casting Shakespeare's drama as a contemporary tale of redemption.
The New York Times Book Review
Joyce Irvine
...[E]nchanting....The novel works on several levels. It can be taken simply as [a] story of human relationships in today's fragmented world....[L]ike the play, it has mysterious depths beneath the surface....fresh and readable...
Kirkus Reviews
A wonderfully humane and satisfying meditative romance from the Presbyterian minister and veteran author (On the Road With the Archangel). The major actions here occur on and around Plantation Island, site of an upper-class Florida resort "ruled" by wealthy spinster Violet Sickert. To the island has come Kenzie Maxwell, a thrice-married writer in "exile" following his "scandalous" fathering of an illegitimate child, to join his prosperous new wife Willow, her underachieving, vaguely religious 40-year-old son Averill, and Willow's live-in caretaker, the brutish Calvert Sykes (who believes he is Violet's illegitimate son). As preparations for Kenzie's 70th birthday party are shadowed by the imminent appearance of the disapproving older brother (Dalton) from whom he has long been estranged, and as a storm closes in on the island, the pattern that underlies this altogether fetching tale gradually becomes clear: Kenzie is the compromised wizard Prospero; his daughter "Bree" (Gabrielle) is Miranda; Averill, the sprite Ariel; Calvert, the "monster" Caliban; and so on. It's a fascinating set of variations on the Shakespearean source, expressed in spare, simple declarative sentences that propel the story forward with commendable swiftness. Buechner moves skillfully among the viewpoints of several major characters; the reader is surprised by the generous shift of focus from nominal protagonist Kenzie so as to include Calvert's determination to be respected and Violet Sickert's desperate wish to be, at last, both loving and loved....A marvelous adaptation of Shakespeare—-one of the best ever.

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Chapter One

They say that Kenzie Maxwell married Willow because she was the only woman he still knew at the time who could afford him. She was a patrician to her fingertips and, like Kenzie's two earlier wives, a woman of means. He said that, poor as he was, he would have been crazy to marry for money but crazier still to have let it stand in his way any more than pretty eyes or a fetching sense of humor. The wives on their part never complained that he hadn't given them their money's worth one way or another. It was just that after a few years, in each case, he managed to convey to them in his disarming way that he had found another who seemed to find him worth a little more.

They say that Willow married Kenzie--they were both in their early sixties at the time--because she was bored and because even at his worst, she told him, he struck her as at least less boring than most people she knew. She had more wrinkles than any other woman on Plantation Island--most of the others had had tucks taken in their faces so many times that they could hardly get their mouths closed--and she was also the most beautiful. Even at the approach of seventy, she had the figure of a girl and a girl's supple movement when she walked, usually with either a parasol or a golf club for a walking stick. She took no pains with her clothes but always looked more chic than anybody else in a pair of floppy slacks, maybe, and a loose-fitting, long-sleeved silk jacket, and any one of a number of broad-brimmed straw hats that she had picked up at some thrift shop or souvenir stand with a gauzy scarf tied under her chin to hold it in place, and sunglasses. She did nothing with her hairbut let it straggle about her shoulders, oystery white and uncombed. Her smile was both mocking and self-mocking.

Kenzie had a large, intelligent face and a bushy mustache at a time when in his particular world even a small one was considered an eccentricity. When Willow talked about boredom, he said boredom was a sin and that being bored to death, as she often said she was, was a form of suicide. She said she was all for suicide, but as for sin, she didn't believe in it any more than she believed in much of anything else. "Unlike you, Kenzie," she said. "You are a believer--like your friend the Bishop."

"I believe in everything' " he said. "It's why I am never bored."

Bishop Hazleton, who was known as Frog because he somewhat resembled one, had for several seasons since his retirement been in charge of the chapel that Violet Sickert had caused to be built overlooking one of the fairways, and Kenzie attended the early service there every Sunday. Whereas every other man in the place looked as though he was straight out of a Brooks Brothers catalogue, Kenzie wore a baggy, dark sweatshirt with a hood in back like a monk's cowl and always chose a pew near a window so he would have as much light to read the service by as possible.With a faint smile on his bps, he would sit attentive through the Bishop's rambling homilies, which seldom failed to include a pleasantry or two about the Sunday golfers going by outside in their electric golf carts. As soon as the service was over, Kenzie always left through the side door so he wouldn't have to shake hands with everybody on the front steps afterwards.

"They say he has taken up karate lessons," Willow said.

Kenzie shrugged his shoulders.

"It's better than destroying the life of a girl young enough to be your daughter," he said. "I say it so you won't have to."

"I would never dream of saying it, Kenzie," she said. "We are mismatched in almost every way, but we have always treated each other with consideration."

"Noblesse oblige," Kenzie said. He pushed the sunglasses back on her forehead so he could see her better." Tendresse oblige."

"Can you imagine the Bishop breaking bricks in two with his bare hand?" Willow said, and he said, "The trouble is I have always been able to imagine almost anything. It has been my downfall."

It had also been his strongest suit and, before scandal drove him into exile, the way he had made his mark on the world. It was what had led him to become a writer or, as he preferred to put it sometimes, a "delusionist," which struck him as less pretentious. He thought of himself as a man who wrote because he couldn't think of anything else to do with his delusions.

He had first appeared in print when, to his surprise, The New Yorker accepted one of his stories while he was still in his twenties and then maybe five or six others over the next few years. They were ironic, graceful little glimpses of people falling in and out of love in Manhattan, where he had often fallen in and out of love himself, and their style was spare, translucent, wistful. Eventually a collection of them was published under the title Both, Both, My Girl, from Prospero's answer to Miranda when she asks him if it was by blessed means or foul that they were washed up on their enchanted island. "Both, both is what all those stories are about," he told his wife at the time. "It is also the story of my life."

The book never sold particularly well but was by and large favorably received by reviewers so that in time his name and even his face started to ring a bell in places where such matters were known and talked about. He gave a reading or two at the Gotham Book Mart and was invited to apply for a month of literary seclusion at Yaddo at about the time that young aspirants like Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell were holed up there. He declined on the grounds that he always felt uneasy in the presence of real writers. He was also elected to membership in the Apollonian Club, where he often sought refuge from one or the other of his marriages, and every week or so enlivened lunch there at the Long Table...

What People are Saying About This

George Garrett
"Like other fine books by Frederick Buechner, The Storm is highly original and delights and surprises from first page to last. This is a warm and wonderful novel, a magical story, allusively and gracefully offering us an up-to-date, shadow version of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Stylish, witty, compassionate and charitable. The Storm is a story whose brilliant pleasures lead inevitably to a satisfying wisdom."

Meet the Author

Frederick Buechner, author of more than thirty works of fiction and nonfiction, is an ordained Presbyterian minister. He has been a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award and was honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His most recent work is Beyond Words: Daily Readings in the ABC’s of Faith.

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Storm 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kk. Got it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You know. Like what i did to you only different.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What 0.o
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Canyonstar paced around in the small cove, pondering.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stripefur made a nest.