A man alone.
The girl who finds him.
"I love this. I love everything about this!" - Amazon Reader
On a hill above the beach, old man Gabriel lives in isolation. Removed from everyone he loves, he has his books, his cat, and the ramblings of his mind. He killed his former self, the selfish failed man. He follows the teachings of a long-dead guru. He believes he is enlightened. He thinks he knows life. He prefers to be alone. Until a beautiful, bright young girl infiltrates his world.
Dennstedt’s knowledge of various religious philosophies enriches Gabriel’s character, creating a man whose extensive spiritual studies enable him to deeply appreciate all facets of his life. Gabriel’s meeting with Therese is richly complex; there’s a physical attraction between them, but Gabriel focuses on his desire to share with Therese how to live in the moment and comprehend nature's wonders. The scene in which Therese reveals she will be leaving the beach following her summer break from school exceptionally captures the human longing for connection.
Dennstedt’s depictions of the landscape outside Gabriel’s home are lyrical, and his description of the ocean ("he could hear not only the crash of its assault on the rocks, but also the rippling hiss of its retreat") adds texture to Gabriel’s love of the ocean’s rugged beauty and the world around him. And Dennstedt explores the depths of Gabriel’s personality, depicting him as an authentic character with a flawed past who is determined to leave his past mistakes behind him and ready to embrace a brighter future. This philosophical novella will touch readers’ hearts.
Takeaway: In this touching, philosophical novella, a solitary man embraces his spirituality when a chance meeting with a young woman changes his lonely existence.
Great for fans of: Andrew Zimmerman’s Journey: A Spiritual Novel, Andrew D. Himmel’s The Reluctant Healer.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A
This beautifully written book was a joy to read from start to finish. It tells the story of Gabriel, a fascinating character who lives his life in chosen and peaceful isolation with only his cat for company. Gabriel has left his old life behind and spends most of his time meditating and studying philosophy. I have to admit I was intrigued by him, probably because I have always wanted to meet someone like him in real life! Out of the blue a young girl called Therese enters his life and shakes everything up. From the moment they meet, a beautiful and intriguing friendship develops between them. They just seem to slot together, each equally fascinated with the other's life and thoughts. The plot moves slowly and gently, never hurrying you, and the narrative prose is just gorgeous. I felt blissfully adrift while reading this book; it really does have a physical effect on you. Tender and insightful; I have never read anything quite like it. All too soon it was over, and I am still thinking about Gabriel and Therese, and wondering what might have been....I will definitely be reading more from this author
“Hermit” is an exquisitely written ethereal story about Gabriel, a man who has chosen to eschew society and live a simple life of meditation and study. His only companion is a stray and very independent cat, Nisarga, who he calls “N” for short. Unlike Gabriel, Nisarga is fully involved with the world around him and leads a life that is a counterpoint to Gabriel’s life of non-involvement. Early in this story, we learn the effect of Gabriel’s self-imposed isolation:
“Gabriel felt less real, less involved, less a part of things in the world. He did not feel himself to be a person, but a kind of witnessing awareness only.” And, later, in a flashback to a thrift store purchase of a coffee mug we see a description of Gabriel’s reality: “...a mug he found sitting alone on a discount-store shelf – a ceramic version of himself...”
Yet, that is okay with Gabriel; he doesn’t see that as a negative thing. However, his quiet and predictable world is shaken just a little when the young, whimsical, Theresa, a college student on summer break, enters his life. Theirs is a May-December friendship, a joyous and eye-opening interlude for the reclusive Gabriel and searching Theresa. She is a vivacious person who is fully involved in the world around her, curious as a kitten and as friendly as a puppy. Gabriel finds her fascinating and compelling. He begins to feel long-buried emotions and yearnings, the very foundations of the not-so pretty life he had left behind.
Author Joel R. Dennstedt skillfully takes us inside the head and heart of his protagonist, within which he introduces the reader to spiritual theories and truths that make one stop and think, ponder and digest, and then exclaim, “My gosh! That is SO true!” Especially intriguing is the question presented early in the book, “Who were you before you were born?” How many of us have pondered that? And, yes, that question is answered beautifully later on, and you, the reader, will be thinking about it for years to come!
I highly recommend “Hermit,” not just for the splendid lyricism of author Dennstedt’s narrative, but also for his intimate revelations of the God-given beauty that lay deep within our souls.