In Elysian Fields by Tom Evans short read, this story feels a little like entering a sports time capsule, curated by a middle aged man in his prime, and a young woman just reaching hers. Set in 1957, Luke Allen is a baseball player who, admittedly has seen better days in his career, but is still going strong. His portrayal of himself is shockingly honest, not shying away from his own short comings, like having a trophy wife and ‘abandoning’ the daughter that he loves. I’m sure he doesn’t actually abandon the girl completely, but in his mind, once the marriage ended, his moving physically away was a way of abandonment. Life isn’t treating him so well, but little notes left for him on delicate stationary, smelling of lavender, give him hope. He doesn’t know who his secret admirer is, but he does know that they’re feminine, consistent, and a lover of the game.
On the flipside, Norah Dailey is a young woman ahead of her time. She’s not interested in the common trajectory of women of that era, namely, meeting a man, marrying him, having babies by him, and taking care of his home. It’s not that she completely shuns these things, but what she wants is a life of her own. One not filled with taking orders at home, or raising little human beings. That said, she takes a liken to Luke. A man who I imagined to be ruddy, handsome, and somewhat fit for his age, it would be hard not to notice him, or so Norah thinks. She isn’t quite sure when her interest in him became more than that of just a fan, but she always makes sure to leave him little encouragements.
This book is not your typical romance and it seems as though it never set out to be. It veers away from the boy-meets-girl narrative, sticking instead with getting to know the boy, and finding out why the girl chose him. The author does a good job of concentrating on the characters and their motivations for what it is that they are doing, spending little time on the acts themselves. This form of character development isn’t often seen in modern literature, and helps to lend itself to the old-timey feel of the book. My only pet peeve with the author is the same one I had for his other work, Where Do The Children Play. His day-to-day, thought-to-thought, writing style forces me to become engaged with and fall in love with the characters, but even though the stories end properly, it always just feels too soon. This book reads like a really good episode of a show, but I’m sitting waiting for the next one to come on. Hopefully, we will see more from this author.
*** Review based on a free arc copy provided for that purpose. ***