A book review? Yes, this is certainly most out of the ordinary for yours truly. My blog is dedicated to family law…. in Ontario. So why during this joyous holiday season is family law lawyer Colman penning a few words about Darlene Madott’s book, “Dying Times”? The title is a ‘downer’, isn’t it?
From 1988 to 1990 I had the privilege to practise family law at Teplitsky, Colson where Darlene toiled mostly in civil litigation (with a bit of family law). There I learned of her incisiveness as well as her deep care not only for her clients but for humanity generally. These qualities she acutely exemplifies in this very concise, petit but oh so powerful book. It’s only a teench larger than 5” x 7” and 112 pages. It’s a quick read for sure but notwithstanding the title, it leaves you uplifted.
Uplifted? Death? Dying? Ya gotta be kidding! First off, folks, we all face death. Sorry to tell you that. The older you get, the more real it looms. But what makes this little book so unique and captivating is that the insights come from an accomplished Ontario civil litigator whose life and law world experiences infiltrate the narrative in innumerable ways that entertain, educate and captivate. I literally could not put this book down.
Darlene’s story is against the backdrop of the impending deaths of her mom, her mentor and the mentor’s uber wealthy, elderly and embittered family law client. Now isn’t that a toxic mix? Surprisingly, it is not toxic though. The author jumps back and forth in time as not only are the protagonists’ characters elucidated, elaborated on and explained, but also the story teller herself gains life changing insights as a lawyer, as a mom, as a sister, and as a daughter. But it’s not a pedantic style of teaching; the thought-provoking sentiments seep through the narrative in ways that you may not even notice until the end of the work. And then, you smile. Even amidst death, you smile. This book entertains you in very positive ways: sometimes humorous, sometimes wry, always transformative. I came away with this sentiment: ‘Let’s clean up the messes we have made, seek forgiveness, renew friendships.” For no matter in what age bracket or stage of life we may find ourselves, there is always room to make not only our own lives but those around us a smidgeon better.
For those going through family law hell, this quick read has much with which you can identify – what with one backdrop being the mentor’s big family law case – both the mentor and his client are about to die and yet the family law case continues. How ironic is that? Family law and death are juxtaposed. For those of you like myself who are aging (hopefully gracefully), this book nonetheless leaves you more optimistic than when you first opened it. And I assure you: You do not need to be an older family lawyer to enjoy it!
Dying Times? For sure. But this book is really about living. Read it.