This is my first LaVyrle Spencer book and I have a feeling that I started out with the wrong one. This was a difficult book to grade because, while it’s not a bad book, it fails completely as a romance. The Fulfillment is really the story of three people, the heroine, her husband and his brother. It’s an adultery story and the writer draws a portrait of three sympathetic people. It’s sad. Even though the end is supposed to be happy, it didn’t leave me smiling.
The story opens as Minnesota farmer, Jonathan Gray, decides that Mary, his wife, should become pregnant by his brother Aaron. Jonathan and Mary have been married for seven years and are childless. Jonathan had the mumps years before and is infertile.
The Gray brothers’ lives are tied together by an unusual circumstance. Due to their father’s will, Jonathan owns the farmland, while Aaron owns the house. For the past seven years, Jonathan, Mary and Aaron have lived together quite happily. Aaron has been a good friend to Mary, often being the one of the brothers who is more likely to talk or laugh with her. The two have never had so much as a flirtation.
Jonathan proposes that Mary and Aaron get together while he is away buying a bull. Both Mary and Aaron are appalled when they hear his suggestion. They have never considered being together. Even though they object strongly to the idea, they begin to feel an attraction. When Jonathan leaves, they get together, and not long after this, Mary discovers that she is pregnant.
Many things about this story would be interesting except that I just couldn’t stop feeling depressed about the miserable situation these people are in. Mary and Aaron feel the same way and much of the book is spent examining temptation and guilt. Once Mary is pregnant, they are all terribly upset, but try to ignore their feelings. Mary and Aaron behave properly and are determined to put their feelings aside. Jonathan is heartbroken but realizes that he brought the situation on himself.
Even putting aside the unromantic adultery theme, the book has some problems. Mary is a dutiful farm wife who is not a fully realized character. We learn a lot about Mary’s housework, her growing attraction for Aaron and her desire for a baby. That’s about it. She is difficult to identify with. While Aaron and Jonathan are more fully drawn, I had some trouble believing that Mary and Aaron could have lived together for so long with no attraction, only to have intense desire take over their lives suddenly and completely.
Then there is the “simple people” problem that arises in many Americana romances. Like many writers, Spencer seems to believe that people who live on farms think of nothing beyond farm labor and local homey type functions like dances. Nobody seems to think of anything funny, ever. What a solemn bunch! I wanted assign them a course of Mark Twain.
In spite of these problems, I can’t really say that I disliked The Fulfillment. It had three main characters who tried hard to live good lives in spite of their mistakes. Although I plan to read more LaVyrle Spencer, I’d like to skip anything that looks like its going to depress me. Your suggestions are welcome.
|Review Date:||December 4, 1999|