From Shors (Beside a Burning Sea, 2008, etc.), a novel almost more heartwarming than a body can stand.
Aussie Ian recently lost his American wife, Kate. Although he and his ten-year-old daughter Mattie grieve intensely, they decide to honor Kate’s memory by following through on one of her last requests—that they retrace a journey Ian and Kate had made earlier through Asia. Ian quits his job as a high-paying executive, and the narrative develops a flow based on the rhythm of their journey—from Japan to Nepal to India to Hong Kong to Vietnam and finally to Egypt. Kate has written some posthumous letters and poems that Ian and Mattie open periodically as they reach their various destinations. In this way they get reassurance of Kate’s continuing concern, devotion and love from beyond the grave. Mattie is an aspiring artist and leaves sketches and notes for her mother in trees as they move from place to place. One of Kate’s requests is that they do good along the way by helping people in need, so they take time to do this, most notably by befriending a poor boy, Rupee, in India, an untouchable who survives by diving for gold teeth in the Ganges. One of Kate’s requests involves their getting in touch with Georgia, Kate’s former best friend and now a bank executive working in Hong Kong, and her daughter Holly. Georgia, too, has suffered: She had an unfaithful husband and a nasty divorce. Before her death Kate must have had a premonition that a) Ian would be lonely and b) he’d hit it off with Georgia. Ian fights his attraction to Georgia; he feels that any kind of incipient love would show disloyalty to Kate. But attraction is a complicated thing.
A novel that varies in tone from the sentimental to the mushy, unfolding predictably.