okay, Kay Curtiss shamed me into doing a post on this book, because she did a post on her blog referring to written comments I had posted elsewhere, and I figured if I'm going to talk about it, I should talk about it HERE!
"The Evolution of Thomas Hall" is the first time novel for Kieth Merrill. I know Kieth as a movie director and as a columnist for Meridian Magazine and I have always enjoyed his articles. I have to admit that one of the reasons I first picked up the book was because I was curious about how easily he could transition from one genre into such a completely different one. Just for the record, he did it with flying colours! Thats a lot of talent for one person to possess ......
Watch Kieth Merril interview on Fox News about Hollywood being out of touch with our values.... a movement to produce more Family Friendly and Value Oriented Movies
Thomas Hall is an arrogant, self absorbed, extremely talented artist (we're talking Micheangelo) who has taken his God-given gift for granted, not only failing to acknowledge from whence it came, but failing to realize that where much is given much is required. He has a huge sense of entitlement that is in conflict with any seed of humility that might be lying dormant. But as we all know, the Lord is in control, and occasionally He sees fit to compel us to be humble for His greater purposes. And so begins the evolution of Thomas Hall, from the brilliant but 'cowardly agnostic' artist, to a believing man of faith who replaces his need to be worshipped FOR his art, to using his talent to worship THROUGH his art. A Big Difference indeed. At the beginning of the book, you don't like anything about him, although you have to admit he is brilliant, but by the end of the book you'd like him to marry your daughter! The transition / evolution - is not one that is easy, and it is scripted with enough complexity that one never has the idea that it is contrived or convenient. That's my big peeve - I hate plots that are simplistic or cheesy, and that seem too smooth to be realistic. .... Having said that, I am a big believer that people can change. There are noble and great ones who have lost their way but who finally recognize the spirit when their world comes crashing down around them. Paul, Alma the Younger, Ammon, King Lamoni, ..... why not Thomas Hall?
The story is told so beautifully that I could not restrain myself from marking some choice paragraphs and phrases (although these days I usually try to refrain from writing in my books). I have a lot of admiration and respect for an author who can stir my heart so much - with 'words'. That is a talent - no less inspiring than the talent Thomas Hall possessed as a visual artist, and the talent that Kieth Merril possesses as a film maker of the highest order. I respect the individual who is willing to use his or her God-given talents to creating works that uplift and edify the human soul. Kieth Merrill has done that. Not only does he work in the world of Hollywood, creating films that hit the mainstream big screen, but he was commissioned by President Gordon B. Hinckley to create and direct the church's first film intended for the big screen - "Legacy", and then follow it up with "Testament".
Back to Thomas Hall -
Once in a while a book just stands out. This one stands out. I recommend it to those who not only enjoy a good story - well told - but for those of us who want something more. For those who want to be uplifted, edified, and at the end of the 450 pages, to feel that we are better people for having invested that much time into it - Thomas Hall is a buyer!