This one didn't touch me quite like These Granite Islands because I couldn't warm up to some of the characters. BUT---when I read the epilogue I found myself snorking and snuffling and wiping the tears from my cheeks, wondering how Sarah Stonich managed to do that to me again.
It was the Irish characters that got to my heart. The love and loyalty between Remy and Maggie Conner is enviable, and was so sweetly portrayed. And you can't help loving their granddaughter Siobhan for her sass and spunky determination.
The book alternates between the past in Mexico and the present in Ireland, with a little bit of Toronto tossed in between the two.
We first meet Lise as she arrives on the Irish coast to start a new life. Her marriage to Stephen has dissolved, and she is estranged from her teenaged son Adam. She meets the locals, begins to settle in, and then flashes back on the affair she had in Mexico with a Welsh painter named Charlie Lowan.
I never really connected with Charlie's character, and I'm not sure I even liked him. But by the end of the book I could appreciate what he had done for Lise. In his desire to know her--all of her--he teaches her about true intimacy, which she never experienced in 18 years of marriage. Charlie's questions force her to confront the truth about her marriage, herself, and her father's early death.
I thought Lise made a real hash of it when she realized she had to drastically change her life. Her behavior was foolish, and unfair to her husband and son. I liked her a lot better, though, as she relaxed into her new life in Ireland. It seemed like she was softening up and blossoming as she allowed her new friends to see her authentic self. They open up to her as she films them telling their stories, and in turn she feels safe enough to share her own secrets.
Once again, gorgeous writing with an artist's eye for detail, just as in Stonich's first novel.