An elderly widow shares her life story with a Ukrainian cab driver as he takes her from Manhattan to the suburban hospice center where she plans to spend her final days.
Carden’s (The Secret Files of Henry F. Sherwood, 2005) novel opens on Christmas Eve as Patricia deGroot Abercrombie, known as Trish, chats aloud to her dead husband. She also has a thing or two to say to her dead lover. Trish has been living alone for decades, mourning those she has lost, and she has chosen this particular day to travel to a hospice on Long Island. Trish climbs into a cab and asks the driver to take her on a tour of various sites throughout the city before her final destination. The driver, Zhelyazko Kowalchuk, tells Trish to call him Ziggy as he attempts to involve her in conversation. Considering her personal pedigree too fine to warrant talking with a lowly taxi driver, Trish continues speaking aloud to her dead loved ones instead. When Ziggy shares that he has also lost his great love and that he copes with PTSD from his time in Vietnam, Trish is disarmed and begins to engage with him. She offers details about her past, taking him on a romp through memories of living large during the 1930s, ’40s, and beyond, as they simultaneously visit locations that hold importance to her. As Ziggy takes Trish closer to the hospice, secrets from her past emerge, and readers will likely wonder if there is a bigger reason that she has landed in this particular cab. Told in the third person, the narrative shifts its focus periodically from Trish to Ziggy, bringing his personal tribulations to the foreground as well. The story is expressed primarily through the pair’s conversation and Trish’s flashbacks, resulting in a preponderance of dialogue and precious little setting details. The emphasis on dialogue creates a lack of physical grounding and causes the tale to feel more like Trish’s hastily assembled memoir than the novel it is intended to be. Even so, the author artfully portrays the equalizing nature of sorrow through the losses each character has suffered and the manner in which it brings two unlikely souls together.
A nostalgic swan song about loss, grief, and unexpected connections.