cover image The Worst Thing I've Done

The Worst Thing I've Done

Ursula Hegi, . . Touchstone, $25 (260pp) ISBN 978-1-4165-4375-6

The troubles specific to triangular relationships are explored with depth and substance in Hegi's complex and affecting latest. Annie, Jake and Mason—friends practically from the womb—have developed a fraught dynamic sharply affected by competitiveness, attraction and jealousy. The book's opening trauma—Mason's suicide—serves as a springboard for Hegi to delve into the friends' tangled past: Mason and Annie get married the same night Annie's father and very pregnant mother die in a car wreck. The baby, Opal, survives, and the three friends raise her. But festering attractions—Mason to Jake; Jake to Annie—lead Mason to cross a line, Annie to want out of the marriage and Jake to fail to act at a pivotal moment. Woven into the mix is the post-WWII story of Annie's immigrant mother, Lotte, and her friend Mechthild, who came to America from Germany to work as au pairs and pretended to be Dutch to avoid persecution. Though a bumper crop of tragedy weighs heavily on this controlled and articulate novel, Hegi (Sacred Time ) is an accomplished storyteller; she inhabits different characters and blends the past with the present to tell a rich story of love, death, loyalty and survival. (Oct.)