To love or not to love, and how? And just exactly what is love, anyway?
Those are the questions 40-year-old Juliet Clark faces when she gets a call from her brother asking her to return home to care for their aging mother, who is recovering from a broken hip. Juliet is in the throes of a divorce she didn’t want, and she’s pregnant, to boot—although not by her soon-to-be ex—and doesn’t much like her mother anyway. But she loves her brother, and his lawyerly persuasion prevails. She leaves her freewheeling artist’s life in Mexico for a Massachusetts winter with her self-centered, demanding, theatrical mother. Desiree hasn’t changed, and the pair resume bickering as if Juliet hadn’t lived away for decades. Thus begins what at first appears to be a typical mending-a-mother/daughter-relationship story. Thankfully, about a third of the way through, a series of small revelations lifts the book out of its potential slide into predictability. There are relationship twists aplenty: relationships rearranged and reassessed, relationships that grow and others that die, and brand new relationships to explore. When Juliet finds the answer to her question about love, it leads her to make tough decisions about the course of her life.
Robinson’s fiction debut is a good beach read for those who like to reflect on the complexity and messiness of family relationships.