Reviews and updates from Amber Foxx, author of the Mae Martin Psychic Mystery Series
The story is intimate, and the author intensely aware of what makes a life fully lived, from the sensations and sights to the books and ideas, to the depths of love—all loves, not just romantic love. It isn’t always pretty—age and disability, grief and death, are as vivid as the shores of the Great Lakes and the life and work of a milliner and a tailor in a small town. Isobel loves her husband, children, friends, work, garden, and poetry, and these feelings and experiences are rendered in words that made me feel as if I had lived her long life when I finished the book. The locations, the various times in history, the moments that make up a friendship and a marriage are told with compelling beauty and clarity.
The novel’s structure, moving back and forth in time, is effective and skillfully handled. Flashbacks and time shifts like this seldom work, in my opinion, but Stonich crafts her story in a way that the technique is perfectly fitted to it. If told in a conventional, linear narrative, this book wouldn’t have worked. The occasional mix of dreams into the story was less effective. The dreams seemed to too literal and obvious, like created extensions of the plot, except for the one that shows intuitive knowledge of an event. (Other readers may question that one also, but since I have those kinds of dreams myself, I know that they can be realistic.)
Isobel is hard to understand at first, but I came to appreciate her, and readily understood why she loved her husband Victor and her friend Cathryn, and to feel the nuances of their relationships. I approached this book with no expectations. All I knew is that my book club had chosen it because one of our members works for the Forest Service and she had to have us read a book that promised a passionate affair with a forest ranger. The ranger turned out to be important, and yet I found him to be the palest character in this colorful story, his love-at-first-sight passion the least believable part (for this admittedly unromantic reader) of a powerful book.