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Souvenir: A Novel Hardcover – February 12, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
The melodrama is thick and heavy in Fowler's debut. Meg Powell turned her back on the love of her life, Carson McKay, to marry Brian Hamilton, the scion of a banking family who saved her parents' farm from foreclosure in exchange for her hand. Now, 16 years later, Meg and Brian are so busy with their careers that they overlook their 16-year-old daughter, Savannah, who has typical adolescent concerns about being pretty and popular. Carson, meanwhile, has become a rock star and is now on the verge of marrying a much younger surfing champion, but he's never gotten over Meg. Trouble comes as Meg is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and Savannah meets an unsavory 23-year-old man online who woos her with the kind of positive reinforcement she wants to hear. Unfortunately, Fowler does little to create narrative tension or well-rounded characters: Meg and Carson reunite before Meg's health declines, Brian is a predicable schmuck, and Savannah gets a rough comeuppance at the hands of her bad news beau and his pals. The bungled handling of saccharine material limits this would-be tearjerker. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
When Dr. Meg Powell is diagnosed with ALS, an incurable disease with a dire prognosis, concern for her 17-year-old daughter, Savannah, forces Meg to make peace with her past and to make courageous decisions about her own future. Her decisions will affect her husband, Brian, and her lost love, Carson McKay. Narrator Jen Cohn's versatile range and skill portray Meg and Savannah with empathy and sensitivity. She delivers textured characterizations of Savannah's teenage struggles and Meg's impossible choices, and matches voice to mood to deliver a story of family tensions, second chances, and youthful choices. Cohn's seamless narration delivers the high emotional pitch of a story that teaches that we all should live as if each day were our last. G.D.W. © AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Meg Powell comes from a poor family. Her father is one of those who loves to try new things with usually not much success. Consequently his family suffers. Meg though has Carson Mckay; they have been together and in love for as long as anyone remembers. They're planning on a life together with a farm, horses and a family. However Meg learns something about her family and this sets in motion a string of events that leave her life and Carson's anything but what they had planned for. Meg gives up everything - her happiness and her future with Carson - for a secure future for her parents and sisters. She marries Brian.
Meg meets Brian Hamilton while working in the bank. He's the boss and he has an eye for Meg. Of course he tries all the normal routes to get her to go out with him but she's loyal to Carson but then Brian manages to hit on the one thing that will get her to change her mind. Once they're married she certainly doesn't have a bad life. She becomes a doctor and has a daughter Savannah and they are definitely not hurting for money in any way. She has even grown to care for Brian as he's not a really bad guy - the one thing she doesn't have though is the passion and love that she had once shared with Carson who has gone on to be a famous rock star.
Meg and Brian are always busy leaving their sixteen year old daughter Savannah to fend for herself the majority of the time. Lucky for them she seems to be a smart and level headed kid. The one thing they didn't count on though was her need to feel cared for and her need for the attention that she is longing for. She manages to get herself into quite a lot of trouble that had me just wishing I was there to bop her ears. For a smart girl she wasn't thinking at all.
Meg then is hit with the most devastating news of her life. In the past few weeks she's noticed that she's had problems with her arm and now her leg is starting. She's unable to complete a surgery and knows she must investigate. It's the worst news - she has Lou Gehrig's Disease which essentially means she won't be around to see her daughter grow up.
Meg's disease seems to be progressing more quickly than it does in some others and she knows she doesn't have a lot of time left before she will be unable to function. Like others I imagine with not a lot of time left she thinks back to the things she wished she had taken more time with - like her daughter and herself. She thinks back to what might have been with Carson and they end up re-connecting. Their love never died - it was still there all those years later and it was just what Meg needed.
This book is full of characters you will come to care about. Meg is a great character and my heart hurt for her. I had great respect for how she handled her disease and the decisions that she ultimately makes for herself. Even her daughter Savannah who took the wrong path for a while and her husband Brian who was a jerk really for the pressure he put on Meg were likable. Then Carson you can't help but like. He had a life and was planning for a future and yet when Meg needed him, he dropped everything to be there for her.
Souvenir is well worth reading. I will admit to shedding more than a few tears. I finished this book well over a week ago and these characters are still on my mind and in my heart. Therese Fowler has a beautiful way with words and storytelling and I certainly look forward to reading her other novel Reunion next.
Therese Fowler brings to us into the world of the Florida citrus growers and of the haves and the have-nots through her beautifully rendered imagery, and we understand the impact that a single choice can make. Life doesn't ever go as planned and when Meg is confronted with a situation where there is no good choice to be made, she's forced to re-examine all of her decisions.
While Meg struggles to come to terms with the hardest reality any human being can face, Savannah, her only child is courting danger. Savannah is a personable, intelligent teenager who believes she's capable of handling far more than her limited experience will really allow. Meg must come to terms with her own problems, and we watch helplessly as Savannah naively slips into a situation she's unequipped to handle.
The book is masterfully plotted, the characters are genuine and the story moves quickly. The author has managed to subtly weave literary imagery and the larger questions about parents and children, marriage, love, responsibility, regret, life and death into this fast moving story, without slowing down a thing.
Souvenir is heartbreaking and as we follow the characters, each with his or her story, we're never sure what will happen next. As each question is answered, each challenge resolved we recognize that the stories end in the only way they ever could.
This is a wonderful book, the writing is superb and the story will have you thinking, long after you read the final page.
This was an awesome book. I will read more by this author.