Bird in Hand
Christina Baker Kline
Morrow, Aug 11 2009, $24.99
Alison and Claire met in elementary school and became friends. Clare met Charlie and Ben in London as three American graduate students. When Claire fell in love with Ben, she introduced her pal Charlie to Alison so he would not feel alone. The couples marry and remain friends over the past decade.
Following a book launching party for Claire, Alison drives home only to become involved in a fatal accident not her fault. A mother of two, Alison logically understands she did nothing wring, but her rationale thinking is superseded by her passionate guilt and sadness for the death of the boy in the other vehicle. Charlie is non-supportive of his wife implying she was at fault for drinking two martinis before driving although he puts on a pretense of caring. He has an agenda as he wants her to walk out of their marriage while he plots the end of his beloved Alison’s relationship with Ben so he can come out in the open with their affair.
Once readers (especially boomers) get past the similarity in names to the movie Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, BIRD IN HAND is an interesting look at four people heading into middle age. Each of the quartet comes across genuine as snippets and vignettes bring out the back story of the past decade of two friendly couples; while the differing points of view enhance the audience understanding of the apparent destruction of two marriages. The key to this profound family drama is Christina Baker Kline does not moderate from her resolute unwavering glimpse at the end of marriages through the unblinking eyes of the four protagonists turning seemingly into antagonists.