MEANTIME by Katharine Noel


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After a bicycle accident lands her husband in the hospital in septic shock, Claire Goldsmith begins to fear for not only his life, but also his fidelity.

Just hours before the accident introduced virulent bacteria into Jeremy’s body, he had introduced Claire to Gita, his high school girlfriend. Frumpy and awkward, Gita doesn’t strike Claire as much of a threat. That is, until Gita starts showing up in his hospital room every day. Is her marriage, like her parents’ marriage, endangered? Noel (Halfway House, 2007) deftly choreographs the world Claire has built to insulate herself from the slings and arrows of the outside world. She hides herself—architecturally, by secluding herself in one room of the house to work; emotionally, by joking instead of opening her heart; and sartorially, by coordinating careful outfits—mixing vintage, contemporary, and intimates like a social armor. As Noel pulls out the threads of Claire’s security blanket, she exposes her past. Saddled with the baggage of an unconventional childhood, Claire still struggles to be accepted even though she’s become a successful furniture restorer. Underneath her self-assured facade lies the little girl tormented because of her parents’ strange lifestyle. When Claire was barely 9 years old, her father fell in love with another woman. Instead of divorcing their respective spouses, they persuaded them—for the sake of the children—to merge the two families under one roof. The experience left Claire’s heart guarded, but it also gave her a sister, Nicole, with whom, despite their deeply weird beginnings, she shaped a semblance of home. But can that bond support them as Nicole seeks to become a single mother and Claire worries that Gita may be taking her place?

An unflinching autopsy of the heart, laying bare the raw emotions that push us to reconfigure, again and again, our senses of family.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8021-2549-1
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Black Cat/Grove
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2016


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