Katie Quinn learns "[l]ife in the spotlight, on the pedestal, at the top of the world was a lonely, singular, desolate, soul-killing place" in Martin’s (Thunder and Rain, 2012, etc.) latest.
Katie’s an actress. Think Streep’s talent and Jolie’s beauty. Katie’s also burdened with near-unbearable pain. A performer able to subsume herself into character, Katie’s being destroyed—too much work, too many demands, too many prescription drugs, too many men too ready to use her. That means three ex-husbands and a biographer, a writer who deceives her and then publishes a lie-filled tabloid-headlining book. Katie has one true friend, Steady, an elderly Catholic priest. After suicide attempts and failed rehab, Katie has offered a troubling confession. Father Steady is apprehensive. He turns to another lost soul for help, a friend he calls Sunday, a man with his own dark secret. Setting his novel in Miami and Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, Martin sends Sunday and Steady to rescue Katie as she attempts to hang herself. They spirit her away to Sunday’s home, a refurbished fishing trawler anchored at the Everglades’ edge. Pampered and spoiled, angry and depressed, Katie’s resentful at first and then intrigued when Sunday offers an escape through the "third door"—a faked death, a path with which he’s familiar. Martin then private-jets the story to France and Château de Langeais, where chameleon Katie is living another life under another identity. There, as Katie grows slowly to trust Sunday, she opens herself emotionally but then collapses and rejects him after revealing her bleakest secret. Her repudiation is the catalyst inspiring Sunday to reveal his own troubled history with success and fame, allowing Katie and Sunday to discover "[a]ll hearts have but one request. To be known." The novel stumbles over a minor plot hole or two, but there are orphans, pilgrimages to a children’s hospital and other calamities as Martin’s story charges headlong into the sentimental territory—and best-seller terrain—of The Notebook, which doubtless will mean major studio screen treatment.
Buy tissues. Tears will flow.