The Thin Placeby Kathryn Davis
In a thin place, according to legend, the membrane separating this world from the spirit world is almost nonexistent. The small New England town of Varennes is such a place, and Kathryn Davis transports us there - revealing a surprising pageant of life as, in the course of one summer, Varennes' tranquillity is shattered by the arrival of a threatening outsider,
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In a thin place, according to legend, the membrane separating this world from the spirit world is almost nonexistent. The small New England town of Varennes is such a place, and Kathryn Davis transports us there - revealing a surprising pageant of life as, in the course of one summer, Varennes' tranquillity is shattered by the arrival of a threatening outsider, worldly and otherworldly forces come into play, and a young local girl finds her miraculous gift for resurrecting the dead tested by the conflict between logic and wish.
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The Thin Place
By Kathryn Davis
Little, BrownCopyright © 2006 Kathryn Davis
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThere were three girlfriends and they were walking down a trail that led to a lake. One small and plump, one pretty and medium-sized, one not so pretty and tall. This was in the early years of the twenty-first century, the unspeakable having happened so many times everyone was still in shock, still reeling from what they'd seen, what they'd done or failed to do. The dead souls no longer wore gowns. They'd gotten loose, broadcasting their immense soundless chord through the precincts of the living.
At the lake the trail branched right and left. Right to the town beach, a grassy plot with six picnic tables, two stone grills, a pit toilet, a trash can, and a narrow strip of lumpy gray sand. Left to the Knoll, where the overlarge houses of the rich nestled among shade trees and tasteful redwood play structures-and then back to town. Straight ahead was the boat ramp and the Crocketts' chocolate Lab, Buddy, going down shoulder-first on a dead fish. Beyond the ramp was the water.
The sky was the palest blue and fluttered over the girls' heads like a circus tent at the apex of which the sun was pinned. It was a Saturday in mid-May, the sun only just starting to heat up, it being the northern latitudes, but even so Mrs. Kipp had made sure they all wore sunblock. You couldn't be too careful. Like many objects of worship, the sun had grown impatient with its worshipers, causing some of them to sicken and die. As she larded on the sunblock, Mrs. Kipp informed them that these days only stupid people had tans.
When they got to the beach, the three girls came to a halt. A very large man, dressed in a pair of khaki shorts and not much else, was lying on his stomach in the sand with his head facing the lake. From where the girls stood, they could see the bottoms of the man's feet, which looked smooth and white. Almost as if he were a baby, observed Lorna Fine, not only the tallest and least attractive but also the most fanciful of the three. The older Lorna got, the prettier she would become, but for now she was like a bespectacled monkey wearing red-and-yellow plaid seersucker pants and the vintage Ramones T-shirt she'd found in the back of her brother's closet under a stack of dirty magazines, so she was sure he wouldn't ask for it back.
Sunny Crockett let out a loud sigh Lorna knew was meant to be overheard by anyone inconsiderate enough to be hogging the entire strip of sand when obviously there were other people who wanted to use it.
"It's Mr. Banner," said Mees Kipp.
"Who?" Lorna asked.
"Mr. Banner," said Mees, "from Sunny's church." She walked around to the man's right where she planted herself, a small round thing in a pink tracksuit, in the sand next to his face. Mr. Banner's eyes were loosely shut, and his black eyeglasses were shoved up so the left lens was wedged over the bridge of his nose, which was bruised and bleeding. His mouth was partly open, and a little foamy drool was coming out of it; there were several blackfly bites, the first of the season, on his bald head, and four long fine hairs were growing out of the middle of his nose halfway between the bridge and the nostrils.
Noon. The sun shone down; Mees leaned closer. Mr. Banner smelled like perspiration but also sweet like cotton candy, and there was something about him, about the way he lay there so perfectly still yet with a sense of something enormously alive inside him, something almost insanely teeming with slumberous hidden vitality deep inside, that made her feel like she was looking at a cave full of sleeping bats.
"Don't," said Lorna, when Mees reached out a finger. "Don't touch him."
"Germs?" guessed Sunny, but Lorna, a great fan of Agatha Christie, shook her head.
"I don't think he's breathing," she said. "Look at his chest." Tentatively she held her hand near the man's nose. "I think he's dead." The sand was coarse and gritty, the entire beach hard as a rock. If there were any footprints, Lorna couldn't make them out, though despite the trash can, there was a lot of trash on the ground, including cigarette butts and a beer bottle. Molson. Canadian.
"We should do something," said Sunny. "We should get help."
"You get help," said Mees. "I'm staying here."
"It's not like he's going anywhere," Lorna pointed out, but once Mees had made her mind up, forget it. "Just try not to touch anything," Lorna added sternly. "Okay?"
Of course Lorna knew perfectly well that the minute she and Sunny were out of sight Mees would do just that-it had been so obvious, her hand visibly itching to touch the man's cheek.
"Sure," Mees said. She nodded her small round face, a face that, no doubt due to its exceptionally round dark eyes and full bow lips, its fringe of dark hair and pronounced widow's peak, tended to remind people of a pansy. Such a sweet little flower, with such a fierce expression!
Mr. Banner, Mees was thinking. Mr. Banner Mr. Banner Mr. Banner Mr. Banner.
Think of me. That was what Pansy said in The Language of Flowers.
Excerpted from The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis Copyright © 2006 by Kathryn Davis. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
In addition to narrating audiobooks, Shelly Frasier has appeared in many independent film and theater projects in Arizona and southern California, and she has developed character voices for animation projects and done voice-over work for commercials.
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I'm an avid reader, so I never give up on a book. I finished it, but painfully. The people in Varennes are boring. There was no plot, no resolve (even to the few incidents which occurred). Kathryn Davis' musings might be interesting to some, but not to me. This could have been any town, yours or mine.
I just finished this book, and maybe I read a different one than the other two reviewers. I. did. not. get. it. period. I read the novel in its entirety, waiting and waiting for something big to happen. Still waiting. When major events did happen, they were almost glossed over, while other things that were practically nonsensical were described in intricate detail. I just didn't get it, I guess.
I just recently finished reading The Thin Place, and I think I will be pondering its storyline for quite some time. It is a short, sweet novel that is written like none I have ever read and yet is still able to capture attention. Davis' unique explanation of the captivatingly simple yet intricately complex nature of the town of Varennes is one that should be held close to the heart and applauded dearly. I reccomend you give it a earnest chance because the ending will be worth the wait....
In Varennes, the three schoolgirls see their neighbor, Mr. Banner lying perfectly still on the beach, even in their youthfulness they can see he is obviously dead. However, instead of getting help, one of children Mees Kipp brings him back to life, a power she has used since she was three and mentored since by Jesus. Her two pals Lorna and Sunny are a bit awed by the revival of Banner from the dead, but do not fully grasp the miracle.----- Meanwhile bookbinder Andrea Murdock has done research into the 1870 disaster that still haunts Varennes like it occurred yesterday. Apparently a schoolmarm and several students died in what is now commonly known as the Sunday School Outing Disaster. At the same time nonagenarian Helen Zeebrugge wonders when her sexagenarian son Piet will grow up as he always seems to think with the wrong head. Now newcomer Billie Carpenter targets him, but first must he must deal with an evil related to that 1870 disaster that threatens the existence of the townsfolk today with a repeat of the previous calamity. Not knowing whether to trust Mees, who just might be mentored by the malevolence, Billie¿s only weapon in her repertoire is love though she has never been the recipient of such.----- THE THIN PLACE is a weird but exhilarating King meets Kafka like thriller that haunts readers even after the novel is finished. The story line is character driven, but the changing atmosphere of the town is what the audience senses although they are not fully sure what is coming down. If you have not tried Kathryn Davis you are missing one of the best author¿s at keeping readers¿ attention from start to finish as no one knows where the author will escort you to, only that it will be strange, scary, and suspenseful.----- Harriet Klausner