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FIVE DAYS by Douglas Kennedy

FIVE DAYS

By Douglas Kennedy

Pub Date: April 30th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4516-6633-5
Publisher: Atria

Two middle-aged, ordinary Mainers have an opportunity to alter their lives through love.

Laura, a radiology technician in a small town, is a seasoned diagnostician of the benign or deadly menaces lurking within her patients, even if delivery of the good or bad news must be left to her supervising physician. The fact that she has sold herself short all her life has led to disappointments on every level, from her failure to qualify for med school to a marriage, now two decades in duration, that she essentially transacted on the rebound from her first serious love affair. When, at a conference in a Boston hotel, she meets, by chance, insurance salesman Richard, she soon sees the parallels in their lives. He too allowed strictures in his life to curtail his dreams. A domineering father prevented him from having the writing career he wanted, just when he was on the verge of entering an MFA program, accompanied by the woman he loved. He too married someone on the rebound, a woman who has proven to be just as cold and insensitive as Laura’s husband, Dan. Laura’s marriage was tolerable until Dan was downsized by Maine’s most iconic mail-order company, then forced to accept a humiliating demotion to the stockroom. As Richard and Laura share meals and drinks, their feeling of kindred spirithood grows as they recognize each other’s unique qualities, mostly having to do with the love of books, culture and English vocabulary. Turns out, Richard has been planning his escape for a while and has even spotted a Boston apartment where his future will unfurl. As passionate embraces cinch the deal, it seems that these two lost souls have lucked into a second chance—but will they dare to take it? Despite pages of self-revelatory dialogue, Richard and Laura remain ciphers who may not command enough reader identification to make us care whether their future promises new love or merely a fresh hell.

Despite some character underdevelopment, a fine tale of lives re-examined.