"Marta, somthing strange happened tonight. On the bank of the river I heard the owl call my name," and it was a question he asked, an answer he sought.

Once in a while, I like to take a look around my house, dip into a bookcase and pull out a book I've read before. I like to relive the memories of reading it and remember what it was that I'd admired about the author.

Margeret Craven's book, I heard the owl call my name, happened to be the book I pulled out today. Its a simple book, with a simple storyline about a young vicar who was sent to one of the most rural parishes in order that he may learn about life and its meaning... in order that he might be ready to die.

The condition the young man suffered from was never mentioned in the book, but it is revealed at the beginning that he had less than two years to live. After knowing this, the Bishop decided to withhold the truth from him and dispatched the young man to an island near British Columbia.

"So short a time to learn so much? It leaves me no choice. I shall send him to my hardest parish. I shall send him to Kingscome on patrol of the Indian villages."

The brilliance of this book, and its author, lies in the melancholy that is never expressed directly, but is hidden between the lines. The village is slowly dying and the ancient traditions seeping away as one by one the young members of the tribe are sent outside to be educated. The young vicar senses the silent resistance of the villagers upon his arrival (they serve him mashed turnip on purpose because they know no white man likes it). However, after some time he was accepted as a part of their tribe as he goes through several trials with them.

Curling up with this book on a cold rainy day is just about the best (and maybe also the worst) way to read it. The unspoken words between the older generation and the younger, and the depth of loss felt, made me tear. (I did not weep. I just wiped my eyes occasionally as I read it.)

Near the end, the impending death of the young vicar and his acceptance of it, the manner of his death and the villagers' response to it really struck a chord in my heart. Never was language used so simply and so beautifully.

The great thing about this book is that its not very thick (only 138 pages in length in my edition), it can be read by a child of 10-12 years, and that it still manages to paint such a tragically beautiful and gentle picture. I concede that I will never be able to master my words to such an extent. This book will always have a place on my bookshelves.

She did not say, "Nonsense, it was my name the owl called, and I am old and with me it does not matter." She did not say, "It's true you're thin and white, but who is not? It has no importance."

She turned, spoon still in her hand, lifting her sweet, kind face with its network of tiny wrinkles, and she answered his question as she would have answered any other.

She said, "Yes, my son."

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