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Elizabeth Day. Bloomsbury, $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-60819-959-4
In modern-day England, Elsa Weston is 98, debilitated by a stroke, and furious at not being able to express herself or make her body follow orders. In 1920, she is a child trying to cope with a father she barely recalls, back from the war that has left him depressed, angry, and abusive. In between she is the elegant, contained, upper-class woman who intimidates her daughter-in-law, Caroline. In her U.S. debut, Day is excellent at showing the complexities of human relationships, making us sympathize with Elsa when we’re with her, while pulling no punches about how inflexible and imperious she is when seen from Caroline’s vantage point. The problem is that this subtlety is serving a larger story that isn’t particularly interesting: Caroline and Andrew’s son, Max, by all accounts exactly the kind of man one would want in the army, enlists and is killed during his first posting in Africa. Devastated by grief, Caroline turns away from her husband and develops a Xanax habit, and when Elsa’s decline necessitates a move to Caroline and Andrew’s house, everyone’s isolation and anger is compounded. Day is given to telling us things we could figure out for ourselves, but the real problem is the lack of events or emotional variety in this well-intentioned but flat story. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/15/2013
Release date: 11/12/2013
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4088-3284-4
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