Letters for Emily by Camron Wright
Reviewed by Catherine K. Arveseth
Camron Wright has charmingly captured the priceless learning of life-lessons in his debut novel, Letters for Emily, a work inspired by the poetry of his late Grandfather, Harry Wright. Harry Wright wrote numerous poems to his wife and family before his death and compiled his poetic thoughts in a book he gave to his children and grandchildren. His grandson, Camron Wright, says he was struck with the idea for this book so powerfully one day that he “drove straight home and began to write.”
Wright’s creation is heartwarming and clever. Emily’s Grandfather, Harry Whitney, is dying. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he seems to know his time is short. During coherent moments he types feverishly at his computer, writing and fashioning a treasure worth more than gold. This treasure, a book of poems, reveals hidden truths and understandings that he secretly hopes his family will discover.
Once Harry’s home-spun gift is uncovered, the family dismisses his poetry as the writings of a crazy old man, but Emily’s quick eye discovers a secret in the first poem, a password. She and her mother soon realize each poem contains a password that opens a file to Harry’s computer – a file of letters he has written to Emily. Harry’s past unfolds with each letter as he tenderly and openly discusses truths that have broken and healed his heart. He discloses his deepest feelings, his regrets, his joys, and his loves. Emily’s parents, who are struggling to salvage their own marriage, begin to realize the letters aren’t just for Emily, but for the entire family; messages of romance, forgiveness and hope.
Emily’s father, Bob, who harbors some resentment towards Harry, is the least forgiving character in the book. It is his “kicking against the pricks,” you might say, that pulls the reader into the story. Together, the family journeys through Harry’s poetry to their own place of healing, a place they never thought they could go. The novel is touching and real as Wright develops his characters within contemporary surroundings and circumstances. Complete with an unexpected twist of plot, it is an easy and delightful read.
Most intriguing about Camron Wright’s first published work is his desire to inspire other prospective writers. He hopes the book will move readers to record their own thoughts, lessons and stories for their children and grandchildren. He says, “It was through my grandfather’s book of poems that I was able to rekindle memories of the true man, the man.our family cherished.”
Included in the final pages of the novel is a tribute to the real Harry Wright. A few of his Poems of Life are published here, one of which is entitled, “My Treasures”. The last stanza of the poem echoes well the feelings expressed in Letters for Emily.
If I could just a poet be,
I wouldn’t have to roam
To find the precious things of life,
They’re safe within my home.
Readers of almost any age will find Letters for Emily to be a witty and enjoyable story, brimming with goodness and the golden things of life.
2002Meridian Magazine. All Rights Reserved.