Sunday, September 21, 2014

Until She Comes Home by Lori Roy

In 1958 the peace of a quiet, suburban neighborhood is abruptly shattered when a young, mentally challenged woman vanishes. But everything is not quiet so Better Homes and Gardens magazine perfect as it seems, below the surface Detroit simmers with racial tension and the pot is about to boil over. Black prostitutes expose themselves to tempt the men outside the factory where they work on payday, causing their wives no end of worry, about money and fidelity.

The women who people the pages of this novel all seem like perfect wives, they never leave the house less than perfectly dressed, even if its just to go get a loaf of bread, they belong to church and charity committees, preside graciously over backyard barbeques, card parties, coffee, and cocktails, and devote themselves to their husbands’ comfort.  But each one has her problems and secrets.

Angelic Grace is pregnant with her first child. Her best friend, the voluptuous, button-bursting bosomed Julia still mourns the baby girl she lost even as she cares for her twin nieces. Stylish Malina, the factory boss’s wife, is the queen of the St. Alban’s Church bake sell, the epitome of white-gloved pill-box hat elegance, conceals with a smile the domestic abuse and adultery that mar her “perfect” marriage. And lastly, there is the vulnerable Elizabeth, a child trapped in a woman’s body, unable to dress herself or use money, and with a distressing habit of wandering.

After a young black woman is murdered, and Elizabeth vanishes while walking home from Grace’s house, her neighbors fear that she has met a similar fate. While the menfolk exhaustively scour the area, their wives cope as best they can.

After having read Ms. Roy’s highly praised first novel Bent Road I have to admit I wasn’t all that impressed, I didn’t see what all the fuss was about, and gave it a rather lackluster review on this blog. I bought this novel based on the plot without realizing it was by the same author until I got it home and saw the cover, and I’m so glad I did otherwise I might passed. I consider this novel a vast improvement and the story much more intense and gripping. It held my attention and interest through every page and I highly recommend it.

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