LeClaire (Leaving Eden, 2002, etc.) again tweaks the emotions as two estranged sisters are brought together by a medical emergency.
As children, Libby and Sam, felt so close that they pretended to be Siamese twins. Libby, the older, was the intrepid one, liking to test the limits and break the rules, while Sam was the good sister, making sure that Libby didn’t get into trouble. At college, Libby met and married Richard, a professor of music, and now she lives in the Midwest, where she’s raised twins Mercy and Matt. Instead of writing poetry as she’d once intended, she has become a fulltime if obsessive homemaker like her mother. Sam, now divorced, lives in a Massachusetts seaside town, where she makes cakes “worthy of being art.” She’s seeing Lee, who restores wooden boats, and suspects she has fallen in love with him. He’s both sensitive and sensible, and Sam’s life is going well. With one exception: Six years ago, when Libby visited unexpectedly, Sam caught her and then-husband Jay in bed, and, hurt by the betrayal, Sam refused either to hear Libby’s explanation or contact her later. While Sam’s life finally seems to be coming together, Libby has just been diagnosed with kidney disease. The doctors recommend a transplant, but the waiting list is long, so Libby first asks her brother Josh, as Richard has the wrong blood-type, but Josh refuses to be even tested. That leaves Sam, who ignores Libby’s calls until she learns from Josh’s wife that Libby is ill. Reluctantly and at Lee’s urging, Sam flies to see Libby. After some initial awkwardness and misunderstandings, the two become reconciled and Sam offers a kidney. Still other challenges and disappointments await—Libby suspects that Richard is being unfaithful again, and daughter Mercy briefly disappears—before satisfactory resolutions fall into place.
Despite the grim medical scenes: an intelligent confection, as sweet and easy to take as Sam’s frosting.