I just finished reading The Red Tent, which I'm sure you all have heard of. It was so good! My mom and I exchanged books -- she mailed me The Red Tent and I sent her Water For Elephants. She finished before I did, mostly because my reading glasses went missing for several weeks.
I really appreciated not only the story and the telling of The Red Tent, but how the author brought it to closure. I've read a lot of good books in the last several years that fell a little short for me at the end. Endings don't have to be heavy, but they do need to be faithful to the weight and composition and circle of the story. This one was pretty much perfectly done in this respect, and carried a lot of resonance for me, the reader.
I enjoyed reading The Hakawati, but the ending left me a little sour. Water for Elephants had well-deserved ending, and that was fine, though it didn't reach deep into me. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle was terrific, but I was very bummed about the ending and felt a little betrayed. It did fit, I guess, but I would have liked to see it end a little happier or something. The thing that really bugged me with that one, though, was the Reading Group/Book Club questions at the back of the book. I HATE that! It makes it feel like a textbook. Yuck!
I have Marilynne Robinson's Home waiting for on my night table, and she always balances story elements well, so I look forward to that one, though it is a story that is so slow-moving that I put it down a month or two ago and haven't felt I needed to get back to it immediately. Her writing is so good, and so quiet, that it can wait, and I know it will still be there for me when I get back. It keeps on living. Quite an excellent quality in a book, even if it isn't fast-paced and a page-turner in the same sense as The Red Tent. I also have Geri Spieler's Taking Aim at the President waiting for me to come back. It's nice having books in waiting. Like modern-day ladies in waiting?