A woman copes with her husband’s unexpected death.
When Candice Fontaine’s husband, Roger, dies during a heat wave, the narrator enters a state of emotional paralysis, emerging only when she finds a paper in Roger’s desk detailing a bed-and-breakfast for sale in his native South Africa. Candice impulsively buys the property and quickly severs her limited ties, giving little thought to the danger or hardships she will face as a single, white, American woman who has never lived outside of New York. The narrator stays true to the desultory and unconvincing account, failing to offer substantial insight into Candice’s personal grief. Readers may be disappointed by the relatively few expressions of raw emotion, and the limited cast of characters is equally sketchy and thinly rendered. When the narrative shifts from Candice to her neighbors, Mari and David, the effect is not only jarring, but also perplexing–the fact that Mari and David’s only daughter is missing is hardly mentioned. Here, again, the characters respond to tragedy with hasty action–in this case, amorous pursuits. When Candice becomes involved with a guest, Andre, any confusion she feels as a widow is implausibly presented as an afterthought. Andre, raised in apartheid South Africa, is uneasy upon discovering that her marriage was interracial, and it’s unclear as to whether or not Candice is troubled by this fact. When he abruptly announces that he is ready to love her, Candice quickly accepts.
A superficial story about second chances, bolstered by the optimistic ending and the vivid details about South Africa’s landscape and culture.