Berne’s father, John Henry, lost his mother, Lucile, at an early age, an experience that’s haunted him his entire life. Now, as he battles cancer, his daughter wants to help him accomplish something that has eluded him for his 80-plus years: find out who Lucile Kroger really was. The daughter of self-made American grocer Bernard Kroger, Lucile led what many would consider a charmed life, growing up in a sprawling Cincinnati mansion at the turn of the century. Alas, her father was an often difficult man, and when she went to work for him as the Kroger empire’s treasurer, it was a challenging endeavor. Award-winning novelist Berne (The Ghost at the Table, 2006) pores through what turns out to be a rather paltry collection of Kroger family keepsakes in an effort to understand Lucile, from her college years at Wellesley to her stint as a relief worker in post-WWII France. With few facts to go on, the author must reconstruct much of her family history. The effort is laudable, but the end result is only mildly engaging. --Allison Block
About the Author
Suzanne Berne is the author of three novels, the first of which, A Crime in the Neighborhood, won great Britain’s Orange Prize. Her most recent novel is The Ghost at the Table. She lives with her family near Boston and teaches at Boston College.