Klinger-Krebs (The Other Side of Silence, 2013) presents a novel about a tragic love triangle.
Jules Kanter and Erin Quinn are lovers in their 30s. But although the two women enjoy each other’s company, Jules is married to William, with whom she has a child. Jules also works for a major newspaper in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and her presence in public with someone other than her spouse could be problematic for her career. The relationship ends abruptly one snowy evening, however, when Jules is killed in a car accident. Eventually, William, a recovering alcoholic, finds out about the affair and confronts Erin in the bar where she works. But the confrontation, though heated, is moot; Jules is dead, so what does William want from Erin? What had Jules wanted from her? And what does Erin, who was once a rising music star in Nashville, Tennessee, want now that she has no real reason to stay in Milwaukee? The novel considers these questions, weaving them together with the characters’ pasts to create a love triangle of flawed people making flawed decisions. The death of Jules near the beginning of the story makes for an unusual setup, though, and as readers watch William figure out that his wife was cheating on him—thanks, mostly, to information on Jules’ cellphone—any sense of tension surrounding the affair is extinguished. Instead, what pushes the story forward is the question of what those left behind will manage to do without Jules—a pressing and ultimately rewarding exploration. Klinger-Krebs succinctly portrays William’s ambivalence, in particular; after discovering his wife’s affair, William expresses, rather adroitly, that “as much as I hate her right now, I loved her one hundred times more.” Indeed, the book is at its best when it explores the mixed feelings that make relationships what they are.
What this story lacks in suspense, it makes up with an honest investigation of love and loss.