Friday, December 3, 2010

The View From Here-Deborah McKinlay

The View From Here
Deborah McKinlay
Soho, Feb 1 2011, $24.00
ISBN: 9781569478714

In England, Frances and Phillip have been married for two decades. They have no children of their own, but they raised his daughter Chloe, whose mother abandoned her. In her forties, Frances learns she suffers from a malignant tumor. Stunned Phillip leaves London where he worked on his latest marketing book to return to their rural home to help his beloved wife.

However Frances feels betrayed as she has found a romantic letter that ties her husband to his book editor Josee, the London-based editor of his books. Instead of confronting Phillip, Frances follows him to London where she sees him say goodbye to Josee. As she knows she is dying, she looks back to herself in 1976 as a twentyish woman in Mexico eking out a living by teaching English. There she met three wealthy selfish American couples (Patsy and Richard, Bee Bee and Ned, and Sally and Mason) who she initially cannot distinguish between the extender Severance family members. However, she and Mason have an affair; which she rationalized by blaming Sally until she realizes her lover was having sex with Patsy too. As her death looms, Frances relooks at her relationship with Phillip who she knows loved her though he betrayed her.

The View from Here is that this is an engaging insightful character study. The story line contrasts Frances as twenty-two years old who believed she could do anything and selfishly went after whatever or whoever she desires without a care for others; vs. the forty something dying Frances who is no long shallow as she has cared for others like Chloe and forgives her beloved Phillip for his indiscretions. The protagonist will have readers ponder whether the sums of a person’s good deeds and bad deeds can be accrued like debits and credits on an accounting journal.

Harriet Klausner

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