Kathryn Lyons is woken up in the middle of one fateful night with the devastating news that her pilot husband Jack has crashed off the coast of Ireland. As she and her daughter Mattie try to cope with their grief, she tries to unravel what really happened on her husband’s last flight. Her quest for answers leads her all the way across the ocean to London where she discovers the shocking truth about her husband’s life and death.
I thought this book was very well written. The shock and grief that Kathryn experiences are expressed so well, the reader experiences it with Kathryn. I felt an enormous sadness when I read especially the first part of the book. It almost felt as if I had lost a loved one. The way Anita Shreve describes her protagonist’s feelings leads me to believe that either she has lost someone close to her herself or she has done tremendous research. Kathryn’s struggle to be an anchor for her daughter while being so adrift herself is very moving and heart breaking.
Fortunately we do not spend the whole book drowned in Kathryn’s grief and misery, that would be exhausting. Anita Shreve takes us back through flashbacks to the time when Jack was still alive, first to the time when Jack and Kathryn meet, and ending not long before Jack’s death. The flashbacks are short and to the point and in no way detract from the story line.
The second half of the book is where Kathryn actively goes in search of answers about her husband’s actions and his life. What she discovers is shocking, but does put a lot of things in perspective for her. I thought that the unravelling of the story was at first surprising, but it felt like a plot line that was a little overdone. It nevertheless is a good way of explaining a number of things, and Anita Shreve does not shirk from making things tough on her characters.
The book ends on a relatively positive note. It is by no means a cookie-cutter happy ending, which I am happy about as that would have ruined the book for me. It was a good read, one that I can recommend if you don’t mind being very sad while you read the first part of the book.