In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch
Women’s Fiction > Chick Lit
The multiple points of view that tell this story are wonderful and deftly executed. In college, six friends lived together. Eighteen years later, the surviving friends receive a letter from a lawyer about a trust put together by their deceased friend, and to learn more, they must all return to the house they shared for the weekend of July 4th, which was the birthday of Bea, the friend who died.
In those eighteen years, the friends lost touch after a wedding in which friends betrayed each other and the death of Bea soon after that wedding.
The characters seem successful on the outside, but they are all in the midst of a crisis, which they keep from each other for as long as possible during their weekend together.
One of the things the author did extremely well was balance what it meant to be a stay-at-home mom (Annie) married to a wealthy man, a mom (Catherine) with a demanding career and a stay-at-home dad (Owen) who was her college sweetheart, and a woman who focused on her music career and avoided serious relationships (Lindy—she is selfish and self-centered and occasionally unlikeable, but her motivations make her a complex character despite her faults). Scotch never suggests that one path is better than any other or easier than any other. The other friend is Colin, a plastic surgeon in LA, and the only friend who knows the full truth about Bea’s death.
This is an extremely well-written book and I thank NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for giving me an advanced look at this novel.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy is in the hospital for several weeks after what should have been a routine surgery. Her husband hates hospitals, so, for a time, the mother Lucy has been estranged from for years sits by her hospital bed. Through the time Lucy is confined in a hospital and her visit with her mother, we learn about Lucy’s childhood of abject poverty.
There is so much beautiful writing in this very short book. Lucy thinks, “It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere and all the time. Whatever we call, I think it’s the lowest part of who we are, this need to put other people down.”
Also, Lucy has had some small success as a writer and learns from a writer named Sarah Payne who tells Lucy that the book she is writing, “This is a story about a mother her loves her daughter imperfectly. Because we all love imperfectly.”