Debut novelist Rogers relates the life story of a spiritual Canadian woman named Anna as she struggles with relationships with men throughout her life.
The story starts many years into Anna’s marriage to Grant, with whom she’s clearly close despite some contentiousness in their relationship. In the past, Anna has fallen for boyfriends who turned out to be emotionally unavailable or unwilling to commit. In-depth flashbacks reveal that her own mother, Rosaline, settled for a man who makes her miserable with his infidelity but also provides for her. After the birth of Anna’s third baby, she has a near-death experience and chooses to come back “for Grant,” feeling that “There was just enough goodness in their marriage to keep them together.” The experience also reinforces the woman’s Christian faith, which becomes intensely significant to her during moments of crisis. She forms a bond with her therapist, a man named Dr. Ess, whom she first got to know in college, and he helps her try to uncover her life’s purpose. The story follows her as she finds a kind of peace with her husband without trying to change him, writes her own story, and finds new friendships. The story takes many unexpected turns, offering Anna romantic relationships that seem sure to be “the one” but do not ultimately turn out to be. A great strength of the novel is its characterization of marriage, which is unexpected but realistic—and not the happily-ever-after that one might expect from a romantic story. The descriptions of small details of parties that Anna attends or of meaningful moments with her roommates or children are engaging. Anna’s deep attachment to Dr. Ess also comes through beautifully. However, some spans of time are offhandedly covered with phrases such as “She was seeing Grant regularly.” Overall, though, the author effectively presents Anna’s life as a series of both good and poor decisions, which makes her story highly relatable.
A thoughtful novel that’s full of surprising relationship twists.