Review: The Elegy of Amelia Johnson
*WARNING* Spoilers Below!
When I first saw the title of this novel, I was actually thinking it might be a bit of a horror story. I thought maybe this mysterious Amelia Johnson got turned into a zombie or was some other sort of supernatural monster. My thoughts wandered to scenes featuring Amelia eating brains or turning into a werewolf and attacking farmers in the countryside of Germany or France.
Then I started reading it and found that the story I was expecting was exactly the opposite of what I actually found. It was a heartwarming, heart-wrenching story. It made me laugh, it made me cry and it thoroughly entertained me.
This novel follows two friends, Henry and Jillian, who have a mutual friend named Amelia Johnson. Amelia is very sick with cancer and before she passes she wants Henry and Jillian to visit people she knew throughout her life. Henry is a filmmaker looking for his next movie and he decides that maybe he could make their trip into a movie. As they travel Jillian is amazed at the amount of people who praise Amelia almost as if they worship her, Henry on the other hand sees nothing but love from the people who knew Amelia.
As I read this story I began to see Jillian’s point of view. It seemed as if no one had a negative thing to say about Amelia. It bothered me almost as much as it bothered Jillian. I thought maybe I had been right, and she was some sort of vindictive character. Then they paid a visit to Amelia’s brother, and we see that Amelia wasn’t always as perfect as she seemed. Jillian finally left and went back to New York while Henry continued on.
When Henry gets back he takes all the footage he filmed of all the people he and Jillian met and he shows it to Amelia. She is moved by all the nice things people had to say about her. Her last piece of advice to Henry is to try and patch things up with Jillian. Jillian has quit her job and gone to work on a novel she started years before, her phone rings and a friend of Henry’s is on the other end letting her know that Amelia was gone.
The end is fitting as Henry and Jillian come together and watch the DVD that Amelia made for them. The funeral is well attended and the entire congregation is moved by the film that Henry and Jillian have made.
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