You Must Remember This

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Well, first: I'm a pretty libertarian guy. But there should be a law against book-flap descriptions that give away a plot development from page 222 of a 299-page novel. Yes, that's nearly ¾ of the way through. What was the publisher thinking?

Caveat lector: don't read the book flap.

It's Christmastime 2014 on Maine's Mount Desert Island, and the family of elderly Miriam Caravasios has gathered at "The Whispers", a mansion built long ago with money made from Prohibition-era bootlegging. Sadly, Miriam is in the throes of dementia, and as the book opens she thinks she's being urged by her (dead) husband to do what they used to do: trek across the frozen harbor to a cabin for secret canoodling. Unfortunately, climate change has made this perilous. And Miriam breaks through the ice and drowns.

A sad state of affairs. After that, the book jumps back and forth in time. Modern parts are narrated by Delphine, Miriam's granddaughter, who's living a life without purpose, but has struck up a secret affair with Adam, Miriam's caregiver. Also in the picture are Delphine's mother Dora, Aunt Diana, and Unpleasant Drunk Uncle Richard. All have secrets and resentments.

Chapters set in the past show Miriam's life as a carefree (and privileged) child, a rebellious teen, a young wife, and… later when things turn not-so-pleasant.

But it's a mystery. Was Miriam sent to her doom by her own hallucinations? Or was she the victim of skilled manipulation? I'm somewhat proud to say I saw the answer quite a few pages before Delphine does.

I really enjoyed Ms. Rosenfield's previous book, and although this one offers a totally different tone, I liked it a lot too. I'm on board for whatever she writes in the future.

Last Modified 2024-01-14 4:31 AM EDT