Margaret Kennedy has been living on a down east farm for several years with her six-year-old son, Gordon. Her husband, Thomas, shot through the spine in Afghanistan, has been in a vegetative state for several years. Still, Margaret is content with her quiet life until Charlie King, a Foreign Service officer, arrives to escort her to a function in Washington, D.C. They have an instant connection and soon become lovers. Margaret puts off returning to Maine while taking a meandering road trip with Charlie and attempting to sort out her conflicting feelings. Her love for Charlie grows every day but she cannot ignore Thomas or the vow she made to him. Monninger astutely renders the tension in Margaret’s struggle between her heart and her belief in what’s right, but by the end, readers will puzzle over why she goes the direction she does and why her decision was so difficult. Margaret’s ultimate choice is a letdown; the conclusion seems contrived and diminishes the value of the story that Monninger crafted so well. Agent: Andrea Cirillo, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
“Monninger comes to writing with his five senses wide open, and his sharply focused imagery has the rare quality of being entirely original while producing a jolt of startled recognition in the reader.” -The New York Times Book Review
“Monninger is a brilliant writer.” -Luanne Rice
"Fans of John Irving, you have a new author to love." Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice and Left Neglected
"Monninger’s imagery resonates long into the night, while your lamp burns oil because you cannot put the book down until the last page is turned." -Romantic Times (4 stars)
As a wife, mother, and dairy farmer, Margaret Kennedy is the epitome of devotion?rising early to see to a farm that will never really be hers, regularly visiting her husband who was injured in war and is now in a vegetative state, and raising a son whose father will never know him. She has never been tempted to cast aside any aspect of her life, until she meets Charlie King. As an army veteran, diplomat, and brother to a vegetative patient, Charlie identifies with Margaret’s situation on many levels. When he is tasked with escorting her to Washington, DC, to witness the President sign a bill designed to increase funding for those in her husband’s condition, Margaret is not as Charlie expected but everything he wants. While they embark on a brief, passionate affair, Charlie realizes that he has little chance of having a future with Margaret while her situation remains the same.
Verdict Monninger’s (The World as We Know It) effort to create realistic characters dealing with difficult situations and set against pretty scenery results in a well-crafted tale that manages to be poignant and sweet, all at once. Recommended for fans of Nicholas Sparks.Natasha Grant, New York
(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
With enemy fire slamming into his hand, leg and neck, Sgt. Thomas Kennedy instinctively uses his body to protect another soldier. Not because he is brave, but because he is a decent man from Maine. Monninger (The World as We Know It, 2011, etc.) exquisitely evokes the horrific ballet of a body riddled by bullets, as well as the enchantment of snow falling on lilacs. His latest novel pits love and duty against each other in the tale of Margaret Kennedy. Six years after her husband, Thomas, was shot in Afghanistan, Margaret carries on her duties selflessly, day after day. On a Maine farm, she rises early to tend the cows with her father-in-law and then turns to her 6-year-old son, Gordon, who has only ever known his father as a wounded, comatose veteran. Although her beauty has faded from fiery to elegant, Margaret seeks nothing more than to do right by Thomas. Little does she suspect how her life will change when she accepts an invitation to Washington D.C., to show support for a bill sponsoring aid for wounded soldiers. A handsome, wounded warrior himself, Foreign Service officer Charlie King arrives to personally escort her to the capital. Astonishingly quickly, Margaret and Charlie fall in love and into bed. And so begins a love affair filled with beautiful words and beautiful places, including the blooming of the rhododendrons along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Yet their romance lives within a glass bubble. Can her love for Charlie keep Margaret from her loyalties back home? Neither the consequences of war nor the ties that bind generate a satisfying conflict for this emotional tryst.