Godspeed: A Love Story, by Dan Chabot. Babop Publishers. 308 pages. $14.95 trade paperback.
Mr. Chabot, a features editor and columnist at the Milwaukee Journal for twenty-five years, knows the newspaper business from the inside out. Now a resident of Bonita Springs, he uses his working background and detailed knowledge of Milwaukee to provide a totally authentic setting populated by a group of richly drawn characters who are really “characters.”
Along the way, Dan Chabot learned more than a few things about writing. I never felt the need to find my red pencil. In graceful, evocative prose, he rolls out an inspiring love story that transforms into personal tragedy and then into gradual recovery from loss. He takes the potential “this is too good to be true” reaction into “this is so good I just have to believe it.”
The main narrative, the love story between copy editor and sometimes news writer Derry Danaher and the breathtaking Amadee Beauchene, opens with their meeting upon Amadee’s arrival at the Milwaukee Ledger. Amadee, who had worked at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, is a bright Louisiana girl who immediately captures Derry’s heart. Everyone sees that they are perfect for each other, and Amadee sees it as well. Neither has had a serious relationship before, just flirtations, and now in their later twenties they need to grown into a new and overpowering dynamic.
Their relationship develops within the environment of workplace and Milwaukee neighborhoods that the author paints with care and effect. There are a couple of unpleasant, self-absorbed people in the workplace, but there is a core of comrades who know each other well and form a kind of family. Amadee fits right in, and all are happy for Dan. The courtship includes lovely scenes: not only the behavior evidences of passion and caring, but also the exquisitely drawn places they share with each other. This part of the story is launched in 1971.
Another thread of the story has to do with chapters of quite another sort. Most of these are set in 1974. In these, we eavesdrop at the funerals of relatively obscure individuals. In each case, an outsider shows up, usually someone who knew the deceased way back when or knew something special about him (or her). He makes his way to the lectern and presents an unexpected story about all the good the mourned individual had done, selflessly and without fanfare. These vignettes comfort and inspire those gathered at the funeral. They leave uplifted by new layers of understanding about their relative and friend. Then the speaker vanishes and is not seen again. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 5, 2013 Naples Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Dan Chabot