Book Talk: The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander

I wanted to love this one so much.

In The Light of the World, Elizabeth Alexander recounts her relationship with her beautiful husband, Ficre, the events that led up to his premature death, and the overwhelming sorrow that descended in his wake. She describes Ficre as having been the most romantic force in her life–an excellent cook, a lover of languages, a doting father, a friend to many, and, of course, a talented artist. He was, in her eyes, perfect for her. They filled each other out, made one another’s journeys complete. So when Ficre passed, Elizabeth somehow had to find a way to move forward without her better half.

Elizabeth Alexander is a wonderfully talented writer…yet something was missing for me as I read this memoir. Despite her clear mastery of the English language–there are some truly poetic passages sprinkled throughout this book, the kinds of things we can only hope to inspire others to write–she doesn’t offer much of an emotional arc in her descriptions of their relationship.

I believed Elizabeth’s rawness in the wake of her husband’s shocking death. But still, I felt a distinct detachment from the emotion of the story. According to this memoir, Ficre was perfect, without a single flaw. Love made him magical, beyond belief; as a result, I never really got to know him, or get attached to him as a character, because I only saw the perfect version of him.

I suspect that this memoir serves best those who knew Ficre and were moved by his actions and words, those who might find reading The Light of the World to be a therapeutic process.

I wanted to fall for Ficre, and I wanted to love this book so badly. That exerted effort, and my ensuing disappointment, distracted me from having a moving reading experience. Sadly, I didn’t shed a tear.

Book: The Light of the World
Author: Elizabeth Alexander
Type: A memoir about a life cut too short

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