Author: Claire Fuller
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review By: Shana
To call this book a mystery (or literary mystery) does not do it justice. At a basic level, this is the story Ingrid (a wife and mother) who went missing in 1992, how her fraught marriage led to the disappearance, and the aftermath for her family. But it is so much more.
The novel tells the tale from two perspectives: in modern times, you see Ingrid's husband and daughters, and how they have dealt with never having closure about whether she left or died; in 1992, a set of letters written by Ingrid to her husband, outlining their meeting, courtship, and marriage.
In modern times, both daughters are summoned home to their father, who is ailing and injured. Having thought he saw his long-missing wife in the street, he fell while pursuing this woman. Whether this woman is apparition or reality, we are left guessing until the end. As they interact with one another and their father, we are witness to the lasting ripples that uncertainty still casts in all of their lives.
For all the strengths of the modern perspective, it is Ingrid's letters that are the star of this book and make it special. These letters that Ingrid never sent to her husband, Gil (a successful, but eventually stilted author), are instead placed within the books of his voluminous collection. Matching the letters to titles that are evocative of each letterâs revelations. These pairings are clever and poignant. The letters move forward in time, inching ever-closer to her disappearance.
The letters are a meditation on youth and romance, passion and betrayal. Ingrid feels counterfeit and thwarted in her life as a mother, and her letters give voice to feeling at odds with the life you've ended up with. While the modern chapters are less enthralling than the letters speaking from the past, there are still moments of beauty and despair. And you can't really fault the husband and children for not feeling as immediate and real and captivating as Ingrid, whose letters from the past have real and drastic ramifications on the present. The epilogue is a nice touch. Recommended.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...