From Publishers Weekly
Lightning strikes an elderly woman in the gripping beginning of Chamberlain's (Brass Ring) latest. Too bad the electricity ends there, as the story slackens into an unlikely, melodramatic, often sentimental tale of tragedy, unrequited love and forgiveness. The plot centers around Rachel Huber, a schoolteacher in her early 40s who has returned to her small hometown of Reflection, Penn., to care for Helen Huber, her long-estranged grandmother and the victim of that lightning bolt. The inhabitants of Reflection, it turns out, despise Rachel because of a tragedy that occurred 20 years earlier. She is harassed by store clerks, though the spunky owner of a beauty salon decides to forgive this prodigal daughter, despite the beautician having perhaps more reason than most to hate her. In time, Rachel reignites a romance with an old friend and secret love who's now an unhappily married Mennonite minister. Further secrets are brought to light, revealing that there's more to Helen than meets the eye. All this takes place without much discernible character development, however, making the sugar-coated finale that much more predictable.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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From Kirkus Reviews
The time-tested technique of withholding information works admirably in this fifth novel from Chamberlain (Brass Ring, 1994, etc.): a suspenseful (if somewhat unlikely) story of two women's attempts to come to terms with the past. When Rachel Huber--teacher, mother, widow--learns that her grandmother Helen has fallen ill, she returns to her Pennsylvania hometown of Reflection and is forced to confront her demons head-on for the first time in 20 years. The tragedy that left ten of the town's children dead was not really Rachel's fault, but with few exceptions the locals shun her. One key exception is Michael Stoltz, minister of the Mennonite church, who along with Rachel and her dead husband Luke once formed an inseparable childhood trio. The story of how Rachel and Michael fell in love, and of how Luke lost his mind and eventually his life, has its roots in the Vietnam War, when Luke went off to battle while Rachel and Michael, then in the Peace Corps, went to the village in Africa where they both were stationed. Although Luke is now gone, there are complications aplenty as Rachel and Michael strive to consummate the love they've been repressing for decades: Michael's wife Katy is the respected town doctor; his son Jason gets beat up for his dad's association with the stigmatized Rachel Huber; and his ministry would be his first and hardest sacrifice if he ever left Katy for any woman, let alone Rachel. Meanwhile, Helen recovers her health but not her spirits; she, too, has been hiding a secret that only her husband Peter (a famous composer who died ten years ago) ever knew. When Rachel's college-age son Chris comes to Reflection for a visit, the truths emerge; what Helen and Rachel decide will surprise and thrill all but the most jaded readers. A fast-paced, engrossing read focusing on a delightful pair of characters. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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