Coming off a 12-year hiatus, Wolitzer (Tunnel of Love, 1994, etc.) plows familiar territory in a domestic drama of love, art and secrets.
Alice Brill awakes one spring morning with a vague sense of unease that may or may not have to do with her parents, her failed career as a writer, her troubled marriage, her wayward son or her work as a “book doctor,” someone who diagnoses and surgically alters other people’s writing. Her father, once the brilliant and well-respected chief of surgery at a New York hospital, has turned, due to age and Alzheimer’s, into a shadow of his former self that Alice can no longer worship. Her own form of doctoring gives her a sense of satisfaction she can’t quite seem to share with husband, Ev, whose stalled writing career is as constant as a toothache, or youngest son Scott, who has problems with money and responsibility. As her marriage starts to unravel, Alice finds herself drawn more and more to the mysterious author of a hypnotic work of fiction. Alice ultimately uncovers the truth about her parents’ marriage and her own misplaced expectations even as her father’s memory begins to fade entirely. In order to breathe life into her world, she must work to put aside the past. Physician, heal thyself.
Tidy and predictable.