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Song Of Daniel [Hardcover]

Williams
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 20.95
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Book Description

July 28 2003
Philip Lee Williams makes the tale of a cemetary groundskeeper come alive with his lyrical storytelling.
In the tradition of his award-winning novel The Heart of a Distant Forest, Philip Lee Williams give us another lyrical and compassionate tale, and his most fascinating protagonist to date.
The Song of Daniel is a story of innocence, of a young man who has pushed away his darkest memories to live a simple life as a groundskeeper in a cemetary. Daniel exults in his world and in a few close friends at the trailer park, where he lives with his beloved dog Toggle. Daniel's world is changed when he meets Rebecca Gentry, an English professor at a university near the cemetary. Rebecca, recently divorced, self-absorbed and cynical, is struggling to write the life of a poet she cannot fully understand.
Rebecca and Daniel are both transformed when they meet, each bringing gifts of joy and sorrow to their days. But a shattering experience from years' past comes back into Daniel's life, threatening both his new love and his happiness. Finally, in a complex clash of innocence and experience, Daniel's childlike life becomes clear and Rebecca discovers a long hidden part of herself--and the key to the poet who so fascinated and eluded her.
This is a story about homeplace, about love and loss of family, about an innocent man's journey towards experience. Williams, a masterful storyteller, has once again written a beautiful and deeply moving novel.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Set in Athens, Ga., and centering on a serene cemetery with its suggestions of sorrow, loss and redemption, Williams's ( The Heart of a Distant Forest ) latest novel is evocative of place and beautifully written, but is marred by sentimentality. Daniel Mitchell is a simple young man, not retarded yet not "normal"; raised in a "home," he is now living on his own and working in the cemetery. Rebecca Gentry, a recently divorced poet, teaches at the university. Blocked in her efforts to write the biography of a local poet who had killed himself years ago, she is sad to the point of despair. Walking in the cemetery, she meets Daniel and is greatly moved by his innocence. The two become friends, and gradually their lives intertwine, Daniel stepping into the real world, with its heartbreak, and Rebecca emerging from her depression. Parallel plots follow Rebecca, as she discovers the reclusive former lover of the poet and resumes work on the biography, and Daniel, as he goes through the pain of acknowledging a horrifying past. Williams, also a poet, writes lyrically, but his characters, while memorable, serve the author's themes too readily.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Childhood witness to his father's murdering his mother's lover, 28-year-old Daniel Mitchell has avoided terrible memories by remaining willfully childlike, apparently retarded. His innocence and affectionateness prompt his new friend Rebecca Gentry, a recently divorced university professor of English, to question her values and more easily to understand the life of Lawrence Dale, a poet-suicide on whom she has long been preparing a book. In a lyric style perhaps too rich in questionably relevant detail, Williams's novel, set in Georgia, explores the values and hazards of innocence and the redeeming virtues of different types of love.
- Charles C. Nash, Cottey Coll., Nevada, Mo.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A hauntingly memorable novel May 27 2000
Format:Hardcover
I read Song of Daniel some years ago, and I still think of it with wonder. The plot is moving, the characters unforgettable, and the writing tender and loving. In fact, the book is the best sort of "southern" novel. To a southerner, that does not mean that the book is about the South, although Williams' evocations of the southern setting are loving and poetic. Rather, the southern novel seems to distinguish itself by the author's love of language. Williams' voice is gentle, beautiful, and touching--sometimes to the point that it evokes tears. But don't think that the book is maudlin. The tenderness is genuine, authentic. Of special interest to those familiar with the marvelous (and largely forgotten) Georgia poet, Byron Herbert Reece, a subplot involves the research of a University of Georgia professor into just such a Georgia mountain poet. Song of Daniel gripped and moved me as few books ever have. Its power over the imagination and the emotions is so great that I have not reread it yet: after perhaps ten years, it is still too strong in my memory. But it holds a special place among those books that I _will_ reread. Although they are very different writers, the only southern novelist I would compare with Williams (based on this book) is Walker Percy, and that's the highest praise I can offer. Buy this book and take it to a quiet place.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a touching story May 20 2003
Format:Hardcover
... I set out to read one of his earlier novels - a touching piece entitled The Song of Daniel. It was a very heartfelt and sincere story about a young man named Daniel Mitchell, living in a world of his own. It was a peaceful life - an escape from reality that he created for himself, after he had been exposed to unspeakable violence in his early childhood. This realm of Daniel's remains untouched, until he meets worldly and somewhat cynical Rebecca. As a result, they learn much from each other. In this masterpiece, Williams has conveyed Daniel's thoughts, vulnerabilities, and deepest fears with such an indescribable intricacy that puts us in his shoes. Finally Daniel deals with the uprising of his past in his own way. I really enjoyed this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars read this Feb. 14 2000
By carly
Format:Hardcover
I love the song of daniel. when you read it, you feel like you are sitting next to daniel in the cemetary, the details are so vivid. it's the first book I've ever read that I literally couldn't put down. I read it in one day, and would recommend it to anyone who needs to read a book they will never forget.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Song of Daniel" By Philip Lee Williams Jan. 26 2000
By Louie
Format:Hardcover
A wonderfully written book about life and innocence and finding oneself. Wonderful imagery. The characters were extremely likable. It was especially interesting to me because I grew up in Athens, Georgia and visited the cemetery often, so I could really relate to the scenery set in this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A hauntingly memorable novel May 27 2000
By jpendley@bellsouth.net - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read Song of Daniel some years ago, and I still think of it with wonder. The plot is moving, the characters unforgettable, and the writing tender and loving. In fact, the book is the best sort of "southern" novel. To a southerner, that does not mean that the book is about the South, although Williams' evocations of the southern setting are loving and poetic. Rather, the southern novel seems to distinguish itself by the author's love of language. Williams' voice is gentle, beautiful, and touching--sometimes to the point that it evokes tears. But don't think that the book is maudlin. The tenderness is genuine, authentic. Of special interest to those familiar with the marvelous (and largely forgotten) Georgia poet, Byron Herbert Reece, a subplot involves the research of a University of Georgia professor into just such a Georgia mountain poet. Song of Daniel gripped and moved me as few books ever have. Its power over the imagination and the emotions is so great that I have not reread it yet: after perhaps ten years, it is still too strong in my memory. But it holds a special place among those books that I _will_ reread. Although they are very different writers, the only southern novelist I would compare with Williams (based on this book) is Walker Percy, and that's the highest praise I can offer. Buy this book and take it to a quiet place.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read this Feb. 14 2000
By carly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I love the song of daniel. when you read it, you feel like you are sitting next to daniel in the cemetary, the details are so vivid. it's the first book I've ever read that I literally couldn't put down. I read it in one day, and would recommend it to anyone who needs to read a book they will never forget.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a touching story May 20 2003
By book yeti - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
... I set out to read one of his earlier novels - a touching piece entitled The Song of Daniel. It was a very heartfelt and sincere story about a young man named Daniel Mitchell, living in a world of his own. It was a peaceful life - an escape from reality that he created for himself, after he had been exposed to unspeakable violence in his early childhood. This realm of Daniel's remains untouched, until he meets worldly and somewhat cynical Rebecca. As a result, they learn much from each other. In this masterpiece, Williams has conveyed Daniel's thoughts, vulnerabilities, and deepest fears with such an indescribable intricacy that puts us in his shoes. Finally Daniel deals with the uprising of his past in his own way. I really enjoyed this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Song of Daniel" By Philip Lee Williams Jan. 26 2000
By Louie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A wonderfully written book about life and innocence and finding oneself. Wonderful imagery. The characters were extremely likable. It was especially interesting to me because I grew up in Athens, Georgia and visited the cemetery often, so I could really relate to the scenery set in this book.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great discussion starter! May 6 2012
By Terry M. Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I read this for as a book club selection. The author is a Georgia author, the setting a familiar GA town, Athens. The book evoked lots of feelings of empathy and anger toward the main characters and questions about how to be friends with people who are really needy or disabled in some way.
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