Sunday, March 8, 2015


Through the first half of the novel, Anna Dunlap tells us about her divorce from Brian, her daughter Molly, her failure as a musician, and her family history.  She meets Leo, an up and coming artist, at the laundromat, and they begin a torrid love affair.  There’s enough passion here to cover quite a few pages, and everything moves along swimmingly, although Anna is barely making ends meet by giving piano lessons and working in a research lab.  Certainly Brian can afford to give her more money, but Anna wants to make it on her own.  Personally, I would have opted for a more comfortable lifestyle for myself and my daughter, but then Anna probably would not have hooked up with Leo, whose Spartan loft has no bathing facilities.  Then Anna receives an emotional punch to the gut that sends her reeling, scrambling to her grandfather for money, and completely adjusting to a new reality after her world has been ripped apart.  This turning point in Anna’s life comes as such a shock that I suddenly found myself turning pages at breakneck speed.  Sue Miller can deliver a powerful and devastating blow to her characters better than most other authors and then string us along as those characters struggle through an unimaginably dreadful time.  To some degree, Anna brings about her own troubles, with a little help from Leo, but we all make judgment calls that can later bite us in the butt, and I became engulfed in Anna’s suffering.  I can take only so many tragic novels, but this one is more about a woman’s very real effort to survive an emotional nightmare, and this story will linger with me for a long time.

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