Lloyd (author of the Legacy of Lancaster series) plumbs aching questions about forgiveness in a family drama that centers on love and infidelity. Ruth Ann Templeton awakes from an accident with a failing marriage to face, a rebellious daughter to tame, and a mentally deteriorating father needing her care. The concern for her well-being expressed by Ruthie's “soon-to-be ex-husband” Drew seems questionable, at best, so his decision to move back home to attend to his daughters and just-about-divorced wife seems likely to do more harm than good. Ruthie's emotions have never been more distressed, and she fears, in the upheaval, she might lose her younger daughter's favor forever.
While the novel is ultimately uplifting, Ruthie's internal rage against her cheating husband powers the story, as she strives to be understood. She fears, understandably, that freely expressing her grief and anguish might take its toll on her relationship with her children, who might judge her as the root of all destruction—especially as the kids would prefer she somehow hold the marriage together. The storytelling is somewhat slow at first, establishing the challenges Ruthie faces, but picks up agreeably when, on an escape, Ruthie makes the acquaintance of Dr. Victor Huff, ruggedly handsome and not wearing a ring.
Lloyd thoughtfully explores Ruthie’s inclination to seek solace outside her home, her gradual recovery from her lowest moments of hurt and anger, and her considerations of the repercussions of a divorce that she may eventually regret. These hard choices prove gripping, and the diverse set of characters are both appealing and sometimes frustrating, as Ruthie feels relatable annoyance at their behaviors and expectations. The tale’s told with welcome empathy, and Ruthie's ultimate answer to how much a spouse can forgive leads her to the discovery of what might be a better road to a more dignified life. Readers of uplifting domestic fiction will be moved.
Takeaway: The touching story of a woman facing divorce and questions of forgiveness.
Comparable Titles: Caroline Roberts’s The Torn Up Marriage, Catherine Anderson’s Always in My Heart.
Production grades Cover: A- Design and typography: B Illustrations: N/A Editing: A- Marketing copy: A
A woman contends with her cheating husband, teen daughters, aging parents, and life choices in Lloyd’s novel.
Ruth Ann Templeton’s “world faded to black-and-white” when her husband, Drew, became involved with another woman and wanted out of the marriage. Six months into their separation, Ruth awakens in the hospital. She learns she lost control of her car and has no memory of the incident. Bruised and battered, Ruth returns to her Seattle home to recover. Drew moves back in to help manage their two teen daughters. He pushes the eldest, good-girl Nichole, to consider college in California, which Ruth doesn’t want, and resorts to bribing the bratty, younger Harriet, who is particularly antagonistic to Ruth, to do her homework. Ruth’s parents also struggle as her father descends into dementia. Ruth meets her father’s doctor, the terse Victor Huff, then encounters him again when she’s alone at the vacation cabin that she and Drew bought after Nichole was born. Victor, staying nearby, is also separated. As he and Ruth forge a connection, various incidents and players complicate matters, leaving Ruth again dazed in her car, this time leading to a much happier place. The narrative is full of surprising twists, with Ruth’s final fate registering as rather a shocker (given the bitterness that has come before). The author provides an intriguing psychological undertone to Ruth’s journey via her disassociation while in her car (“I look out the windshield to see the road is a serpent unhinging its jaw, ready to swallow me again. I will enter its warm belly and find rest.”). Some of Ruth’s interactions are less compelling than others; still, her ultimate self-affirmation is appealingly simple and direct: “I know I can make it on my own, but I don’t want to.”
An expectation-defying tale of female empowerment.