Westfield’s debut novel centers on a woman’s nostalgic recollection of love.
The story opens with a teenage Georgie and her friends enjoying their final glory days in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before heading off the college in 1958, as told by an adult Georgie many years later. The young woman dreams of a career in Hollywood but resigns herself to attending Indiana University to please her mother instead. She’s madly in love with her childhood friend, Tony, and she’s excited to room with her best pal, Sandy, in college. Her life is simple, acceptable, and seemingly complete. However, when Sandy can’t attend university due to an unexpected pregnancy, Georgie must embark on her new adventure by herself. Tony struggles with what he sees as his calling as a Catholic priest, putting their marriage plans in jeopardy, while Georgie tries to find her way among the conflicting demands of those she loves. Westfield offers a rich, vivid setting in Georgie’s hometown by the lake, establishing the closeness of a simple place with genuine people—one that’s always there as Georgie’s fallback, no matter what happens. In college, the sheltered girl learns about suicide, heartbreak, racism, sexuality, and the complexities of friends-turned-lovers. Along the way, she strives to find out who she is, what she wants, and how those things relate to the people who love her. When her career dreams finally come true, she’s faced with an impossible choice—a repeat of one that her mother had to make many years ago. The full circle of Georgie’s life shows that even as things change with new generations, so much of what’s rooted in humanity stays the same. Overall, this is a gentle coming-of-age story that only peripherally touches upon the hard lessons of life, resulting in a peaceful conclusion for almost all the characters. Even in Georgie’s darkest moments, Westfield paints with light strokes, keeping the story somewhat distant from the depths of real human emotion. Instead, Georgie’s evolution as a character is linear, and her final choice is so different from her passionate desires that the ending feels somewhat safe and uninspired.
An often engaging romance, but one that lulls rather than ignites.