From Publishers Weekly
The troubles specific to triangular relationships are explored with depth and substance in Hegi's complex and affecting latest. Annie, Jake and Mason—friends practically from the womb—have developed a fraught dynamic sharply affected by competitiveness, attraction and jealousy. The book's opening trauma—Mason's suicide—serves as a springboard for Hegi to delve into the friends' tangled past: Mason and Annie get married the same night Annie's father and very pregnant mother die in a car wreck. The baby, Opal, survives, and the three friends raise her. But festering attractions—Mason to Jake; Jake to Annie—lead Mason to cross a line, Annie to want out of the marriage and Jake to fail to act at a pivotal moment. Woven into the mix is the post-WWII story of Annie's immigrant mother, Lotte, and her friend Mechthild, who came to America from Germany to work as au pairs and pretended to be Dutch to avoid persecution. Though a bumper crop of tragedy weighs heavily on this controlled and articulate novel, Hegi (Sacred Time
) is an accomplished storyteller; she inhabits different characters and blends the past with the present to tell a rich story of love, death, loyalty and survival. (Oct.)
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Annie is addicted to talk radio, especially the dueling doctors who dispense psychological advice to the desperate. It makes her feel better about her own depressing circumstances, as she seeks to understand just how the special childhood friendship between herself, charismatic Mason, and steadfast Jake went so tragically wrong. When Annie's parents died on the day she married Mason, the three friends agreed to raise Annie's infant sister. But all their youthful optimism slowly begins to pall when the dynamics of their triangular relationship shift in disturbing directions. Emotionally needy Mason becomes increasingly agitated over the time Annie spends on her art and eventually becomes jealous of Annie and Jake's relationship. Engaging in a vicious form of emotional blackmail, Mason ultimately goads the two into acting on their mutual attraction, thus destroying the very thing he's trying so desperately to hang onto and leaving Annie and Jake to deal with the aftermath. But in doing so, Annie comes to realize that, as difficult as it is, facing "the worst thing I've ever done" brings much-needed emotional clarity. Hegi, author of the Oprah Book Club selection Stones from the River (1994), immediately hooks readers with the dramatic emotional arc of her story. Told from five points of view, and puncuated by Mason's running commentary, this ambitious novel fearlessly explores both the highs and lows of pushing emotional boundaries. Wilkinson, Joanne