Estes' debut novel traces the mysterious unraveling of a woman’s neat, well-ordered life as dream and reality merge in strange and unexpected ways.
Maggie MacKenzie is a librarian whose quiet suburban life runs with the predictable regularity of a Swiss watch. But with the birth of her granddaughter Julia, Maggie’s world turns permanently upside down. From her first encounter with the infant, Maggie feels an overwhelming, inexplicable connection. At the same time, Maggie finds herself fixating on recurring dreams about two Scottish girls from the 17th century who witnessed a real historical event, the Glencoe Massacre. The dialect used by the pair, however, is less than believable. Years pass, and for a novel that covers a fairly long period of time (about 13 years) the pacing works reasonably well. However, the dialogue is facile at times. Julia develops a wisdom that belies her youth and seems rooted in past lives. Maggie discovers that she and Julia have been dreaming the same dreams. Soon what initially seemed merely bizarre becomes a disturbing metaphysical puzzle that Maggie feels compelled to solve. In her quest for answers, she receives help from a cast of eccentric though static characters: an ex-student-turned-NASA astronomer, a clergyman with New Age sensibilities, a best friend with a complicated love life and an Italian neighbor brimming with maternal insights. Forced to re-examine her life and relationships—including one she had with her long-dead mother—Maggie eventually goes to the Scottish highlands in hopes that she will finally grasp the meaning behind her nocturnal visions. The ending is mawkish and the plot relies heavily on improbable coincidences and a willing suspension of disbelief. But the novel also makes no pretense to be anything other than a fiction about an emotionally repressed woman who finds personal freedom in surrender to the supernatural.
Fanciful reading for a mainstream audience.