“After years abroad, Lucy returns home from Japan. At a crossroads in her life, she is newly haunted by her father’s unresolved death a decade ago. Late one night, as she paces the hallways of her family’s rambling lakeside house, she discovers, locked in a window seat, a collection of objects that first appear to be idle curiosities, but soon reveal a complex family history. Old longings stirred up by her passionate first love soon lead her into the unexpected. And as Lucy discovers and explores the traces of her past, the family story she has always known is shattered – and then dramatically reconfigured, emboldening her to live with a freedom she has never known before.”
What I thought:
After having read The Memory Keepers Daughter some years ago, I was really looking forward to getting my hands on this book. I was also lucky enough to speak to Kim Edwards a couple of weeks ago (you can read my interview here) and she was lovely and the passion about her books shone through.
Now a confession – I wasn’t enamoured with this book; in fact by 200 pages I was bored. That was so disappointing to me as the book started so promisingly. I loved the opening chapters with Lucy living in Japan and with her looking back on her time spent in Indonesia: the prose was as lush as the landscapes described and I loved the images of torrential downpours and first kisses. I can’t dispute the quality of the narrative and their was some beautiful imagery but the plot was just so slooooow.
After Lucy returns to the States (the Finger Lakes) for a holiday with her family the story became repetitive and frustrating for me. Lucy finds some letters from an ancestor that she didn’t know she had and starts a quest to find out who she was and why she was erased from the family history. In the last couple of years there seem to have been a plethera of books like this – young woman discovers old diary/letters/key in an old house and embarks on a mission to solve the mystery – and although some of them have been great reads, I am getting bored of them now. I almost see them as bandwagon books now, there’s so many of them about.
I found the characters a little hard to warm to as well; even Lucy, whom I never felt I got to know properly as she was all about rushing around the county trying to track down Rose’s life and becoming obsessed with it – I felt that the point was over-laboured at times too and just wanted her to get on with it. I didn’t feel gripped by this book and began not to care how it ended, I just wanted to get it over with in the end. A shame.
I would still invite people to make up their own mind about this book, as the writing was beautiful but, for me, it wasn’t enough to keep me engaged and wanting to read on.