Reviewed by Gail Kaufman, for REEDSY DISCOVERY
MUST READ – 5 stars
Endearing and inspirational contemporary fiction. I would give this book more than five stars if I could!
The story begins with Bennett (Bennie) Hall at midlife when her personal sense of self and view of the world in general was bleak. She had just been let go from her job of 27 years, returning to a house that never felt like home. As Bennett attempted to brighten her life, literally and figuratively, she experienced a transformation, partly from circumstance, mostly from her own longing for human connection.
Bennett found the inner strength to put closure on her lonely upbringing and the love that never materialized. But she continued to succumb to the inner voice of negativity. Hesitant at first, Bennett formed friendships and discovered the self who had been suppressed by the darkness of her past. She surrounded herself with people who gave her every reason to shine, but was blind to the light within herself.
Irene Wittig does an outstanding job of character building, enabling you to find inspiration from a character’s growth and enlightenment. My favorite quote of the book:
Sometimes a tree needs to fall to make room for the sun to shine in.
I won’t ruin the ending for you, but suffice to say that it was perfect. The author’s technique of taking the reader directly from anticipation for what is to be to post-event spares you the mundane details without depriving you of buoyancy and cheer.
Themes include love, friendship and global travel. What I found most endearing and inspirational is the deep respect and joyous value for senescence and diversity. I recommend the book to anyone who perceives middle age as the beginning of the end. This story illustrates that your spirit of life is your vantage point, at any age.
Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers’ Favorite
5 star review
In The Best Thing About Bennett by Irene Wittig, Bennett Hall’s final day at Bancroft, Chandler and Co. may have gone unnoticed by her work colleagues, but she is determined to enjoy her early retirement now that she is no longer carer to her egotistical aunt. When Bennett discovers some old letters, she realizes that her kindness had been rewarded with the cruelest betrayal. As she tries to heal from the truth, a handsome widower, Dr. Joe Muir, and his two adopted children move next door. As Bennett tries to ignore her feelings for the handsome doctor, she soon discovers the children have an elder sister, Grace, who was left behind in Uganda. Bennett manages to overcome her ingrained lack of confidence in the hope she can reunite Joe’s children with their elder sibling and hopefully capture his heart. As Bennett arrives in Uganda, she realizes that the process of finding Grace and bringing her to the US is filled with danger and corruption. Bennett must now face her biggest fears if she is going to be successful in her mission.
The Best Thing About Bennett by Irene Wittig is such a beautiful story with many subtle but powerful life lessons weaved throughout. Bennett was the most amazing character; her kindness and selflessness toward others were unwavering. I also loved her high moral standards and this was highlighted in the presentation scene at Bancroft, Chandler and Co. I appreciated the detailed backstory of Bennett as this gave a great insight into her personality and view of the world. Although Bennett had some support from characters such as Jacob, Meyer Gold, and Mrs. McElroy, she seemed to be the emotional rock for everyone she met. There were so many strong and interesting sub-plots that supported the main storyline perfectly. The suspense and tension when she was in Uganda were superb and I found Bennett’s transformation from a woman filled with self-doubt to a courageous warrior absolutely wonderful. I also thought the scenes in Uganda highlighted the horrific living conditions and treatment of girls so vividly. There were some incredible scenes throughout the novel but the scene between Meyer and Bennett when they discuss regrets in life was incredibly emotional to read. The letter Meyer wrote to Bennett was beautiful and brought a tear to my eye. I thought the relationship between Bennett and Joe was endearing and was developed perfectly too. A highly compelling novel that will keep your interest until the final page.