Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lost In The Forest by Sue Miller

Set amongst the vineyards of Northern Californian, this novel poignantly captures the struggles of a family trying to cope in the aftermath of the death of a beloved husband and stepfather.

Eva, the mother of two teenage girls and a three-year-old boy, runs a small bookstore in San Francisco. When her second husband, John, is struck by a car, she finds herself, in her grief, drawn back to her first husband, Mark, as he is there to lend a helping hand and be a shoulder to lean on as each in their own way grapples with their loss of “the nice guy” who replaced him. Their eldest daughter, Emily, always a serious girl, adjusts to new responsibilities and increasing independence as she goes first to France as part of a school exchange student program and then off to college shortly after her return. While Daisy, at fourteen, sorely misses the stepfather who made a point of befriending her, the awkward, introverted, middle child, and seeks solace in an affair with a much older man, Duncan, the fifty-three-year-old husband of her mother’s best friend and former movie stuntman who takes it upon himself to awaken Daisy’s sensuality. And three-year-old Theo, who, though he was a witness, cannot comprehend his father’s death, finds himself drawn to Mark, latching onto him as the father figure every boy needs in his life. And Mark, despite an angry divorce that later became amicable for the sake of their children, discovers that he wants another chance with Eva.

The book covers the first year and a half after John’s death then leaps ahead many years, but not to the neat tied up in a pretty bow happy ending, that many might be expecting.

For those who like contemporary novels about families, normal or dysfunctional or somewhere in between, and their problems, ordinary or extraordinary, or the effects of loss and grief, Lost in the Forest makes interesting reading.

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