For reasons I need not go into, I’ve had scads of time to read lately. Scads. (Okay, I’ll tell you–foot/ankle surgery on June 26 has me laid up until July 16. Without books and Words with Friends I’d be losing my mind. But, that’s true even when I am allowed to put weight on my foot. But I digress.)
To prepare for my convalescence, I loaded up on groceries from Costco and loaded up on books. Just last night I finished Nichole Bernier’s amazing THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D. I flat-out loved it.
Summer island vacation with her family was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who’d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a plane crash. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew. The complicated portrait of Elizabeth — her upbringing, her marriage, and journey to motherhood — makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a moment of uncertainty in her own marriage. When an unfamiliar man’s name appears in the pages, Kate realizes the extent of what she didn’t know about her friend — including where she was really going when she died.
Set in the anxious summer after the September 11th attacks, this story of two women —their friendship, their marriages, private ambitions and fears — considers the aspects of ourselves we show and those we conceal, and the repercussions of our choices.
Almost immediately, I felt like Kate was someone I knew . . . perhaps even someone I’ve been. Bernier deftly pulls the reader into the story–the lives of these two friends and their families, but it’s also about so much more–the whole world and how we keep secrets, why we keep them–and from whom–, and what the truth can both offer and cost.
This is a perfect summer read, would be great for a book club, or to share with your own best friend.
(And just for the record, I’d have loved it even if I wasn’t house and couch bound.)