GILLYFLOWER by Diane  Wald


Email this review


A mysterious event leads to an unlikely connection between an actor and an artist in this novel.

In 1984, Nora Forrest lives a quiet and contented life in Boston. She is happily married to a man named Rick and enjoys success as an artist. Although she was “never the crush type,” she has a deep affection for Irish actor Hugh Sheenan. When her sister, Fran, tells her Hugh is starring on Broadway in a production called The Lion’s Share, Nora asks her mother in New York to purchase tickets. Before she leaves for the trip, she has a cryptic and baffling dream about Hugh. In New York, Hugh prepares for the play with the help of his trusted friend and secretary, Leon. The show is going well, but he is troubled by a peculiar dream involving a young woman. Nora is enchanted by The Lion’s Share, but toward the end of the final act something happens that neither she nor Hugh can understand or explain. After Nora returns to Boston, she sends Hugh a letter and a drawing of her impression of his performance. The drawing haunts Hugh, prompting him to arrange a visit with Nora in Boston, setting the stage for an encounter that may answer their questions about what happened during the play. The latest novel from Wald (Wonderbender, 2011, etc.) is an intelligent and sensitive exploration of the ineffable power of connection and coincidence. The inventive narrative is told from the perspectives of four characters: Nora, Hugh, Leon, and Rick. In chapters that alternate among these characters’ first-person points of view, the tale of Hugh’s fateful turn in The Lion’s Share and its aftermath unfolds along with the love story of Nora and Rick. While the theatrical performance lies at the heart of the narrative, flashbacks throughout the book enable the author to examine Nora’s relationship with her husband and her admiration for Hugh as well as the actor’s career and his turbulent personal life. Wald’s elegant and graceful prose begs to be savored: “After I mailed the drawing, I thought the circle was complete. In a way I wished that I’d taken a photograph of it so it would not be so irrevocably gone from my life, but in another way its absence made the sacrifice sweeter.”

A haunting meditation on lives that intersect in unexpected ways.

Pub Date: April 16th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-63152-517-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: She Writes Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2019


NonfictionFURIOUS LOVE by Sam Kashner
by Sam Kashner
FictionBEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter
by Jess Walter
FictionSTILL HOLDING by Bruce Wagner
by Bruce Wagner