Monday, June 25, 2018

Lonz Cook's A LOSS TOO GREAT, when "happily ever after" is DOA., a man's love story

A LOSS TOO GREAT (Elevation Books, May) begins with Tom's arrival home to discover his beloved Mary dead on the floor.  How she got there and what happened to the "happily ever after" of this attractive hardworking couple is a kind of parable for men about the fantasy of romance vs. real-life love.  Lonz Cook unfolds a story that reminded me of Erich Segal's iconic "Love Story,” but  shows how loss changes the man. This husband and father is tested and his strength changes his connection to life. in profound ways

In the beginning, Tom and Mary, a happily married couple, are looking forward to "empty Nester" status. Tom eagerly looks forward to  exploring new places, bike trips in nature, concerts and ,most of all, hot  romance with Mary, his ideal soul-mate. He's smitten with her incredible beauty, undimmed by the years, her intelligence and intuitive understanding. His fantasies are a glossy brochure of "the good life," beautiful hotels, cruises, beaches and woods filled with happy couples sipping wines.

As newlyweds, he had surprised her with keys to their Baltimore fixer-upper, they worked side by side restoring the place to an elegant home. He was the sole bread winner but loved how appreciated she made him feel with great meals and always looking great, even after a day of chores and coaching Tom, Jr. Now, he surprised her again with a realtor's keys on a trip to San Francisco.  He was taking their gracious married life to a new setting. But Mary balked at the notion of a new lif, when Tom Jr's room was in Baltimore. Tom was thinking of heights they could achieve now that their son, who had eschewed college for the Army was away. An Army man himself, he didn't see a problem, but somehow Mary wasn't on the same page. .

Love amid luxury travels, their rekindled great romance, all tom's expectations were cruelly upended with news of their son's death. Mary's paralyzing grief meant Tom's love  transformed. Soon he was the caretaker, working with her psychologist,  patiently working for her to come back to him. When he is offered a promotion to San Francisco, Tom gives her the key to the Victorian. But the hard working success oriented, man who seeks perfection in his life, now has to take life day by day and hope she improves in a new city. Grief is a sibject he knows well, he's studied it.

In a “Hallmark Special” kind of way,  Tom meets many kind good natured people who helped him, because they respond to his friendly people-oriented approach to life. He's fun, has a good sense of humor.  He's also a can-do employee revered by his employer. But in his new role in a new city, he overdoes this, being watchful of his ailing wife. His efforts do pay off, he allows himself to think she's returning to herself, when he finds her on the floor. 

This loss is too Great. Tom's entirely changed, Unable to imagine life without his wife, he avoided personal contact. He's completely withdrawn, uninterested in what he used to enjoy. His hold on life is tenous, when Mary is everywhere. When he takes a leave of absence, he goes in search of  what he doesn't know. He starts with a bike trip, painful without her following, but the trees are still beautiful. He tentatively tries to find interest in women and is surprised to find it's still there and feeling is reciprocated. He tries his drive as an athlete and finds he's good.  Slowly, he brings himself back to life, but he's a different man.  

A LOSS TOO GREAT is about the way a man loves in fantasy vs. the deeper love that evolves through real life.  I liked that Tom was an intellectually curious and sensual man. Through his love for his emotionally fragile wife, he is able to change. He gave his all to win her back to life. And when he lost, challenged himself to see if life without her was worth living. This is a serious romance with a resonance for men and the women who love them.



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