The Threadbare Heart
Berkley, May 2010, $15.00
University of Vermont Professors Lily and Tom are in Santa Barbara visiting her octogenarian mom Eleanor along with their two adult sons, one daughter in law and one grandson in California. Their married son is having marital issues, but overall everything seems okay to the sandwich generation. Trice married and quite wealthy from her business, Eleanor offers to buy the nearby Halewood avocado ranch for her daughter, who initially says no as she prefers not to depend on her mother’s money.
However, she and Tom discuss the potential purchase and they agree to a change in lifestyle to pursue middle age dreams. She no longer will update the textbook she has published and he stops writing a new science curriculum. Instead he will start over with the ranch while she turns to her passion knitting. He will grow and sell avocados, she will stitch clothing and other items. The conversion seems smooth even with her commanding mom nearby until the deadly fire.
The story line for the first half or so of the novel is a warm extended family drama with the cast having different personal crisis. The inferno that wipes out much of Lily’s family changes the plot to a person struggling with grief as she slowly though her knitting finds some sense but wonders if her seemingly coldhearted mother is right that giving one’s heart away is not worth the cost when death of the loved one is payment due. Although Eleanor is too harsh on her daughter at a time she can use hugs not tough love, she remains consistent that her theory is love hurts. Fans will enjoy the Threadbare Heart that reads more like two interrelated novellas starring a middle age woman trying to make a sense out of life.