I enjoyed Exiles so I decided to give Hansen another go and read Atticus, knowing absolutely nothing about the book. That’s really my favorite way to dive in to a book, with no expectations or preconceptions. Which is why I almost hate to give any more of a review than to say I thought it was a great book.
Then again, I can’t stop there. So if you don’t want the book ruined, read no further. This is for those people who don’t mind a little more information before cracking open a good read.
Atticus is a retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son from the point of view of the father, the novel’s title character. He’s a rancher turned oil man, a down-to earth widower, who I immediately imagined being played by Richard Farnsworth, who played Matthew Cuthburt in the Anne of Green Gables television series. I don’t usually picture characters in books very clearly at all, but somehow that leaped into my head. His older son is a senator, his younger son is an artist. In this version of the story, however, the father is not content merely to await the prodigal’s return but goes off looking for his son in Mexico.The novel is also a detective story with some very interesting twists.
My favorite moment in the book was when the main character, a devout Catholic, by the way, meeting a very sad woman who has been a companion in the prodigal’s debauched expat life suggests to her that, as their lifestyle hasn’t made any of them happy, perhaps they should try living by Biblical principles. He doesn’t preach at her or at his son, though, and other than that one line refuses to condemn them for being where they are, while at the same time visibly wanting to ease their pains.
I really enjoyed this take on the father son relationship, a wonderful meditation on what it means to call God our Father and how one man tries to image that divine Fatherhood.