Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Safe Within-Jean Reynolds Page

Safe Within

Jean Reynolds Page

Morrow, Jun 12 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061876943

Professor Carson Forsyth is dying from pancreatic cancer. He asks his wife of thirty years Elaine to take him back to her childhood home, a tree house overlooking Lake Riley, North Carolina. She would do anything for him so they leave Chapel Hill. Their twenty something son Mick comes down from Rhode Island to spend time with his dad and to be there for his mom.

Carson’s septuagenarian mom Greta hates her daughter-in-law whom she believes had an affair with Wallace Jamison, the son of her enemy. Greta refuses to recognize Mick as her grandson as she thinks he is Wallace’s child. When Carson dies, Greta refuses to sit with her family at the church or stand near them at the cemetery. Meanwhile Mick learns something from his teen years that shakes the dysfunctional family further while that also fosters his need to know why his grandma rejects him as she has since his birth.

This is an intriguing character study that uses short flashbacks (especially by an accepting Carson) to tell the backstory. The ensemble cast is fully developed but the insightful storyline belongs to the mother who holds a grudge that began before she met Elaine, the dying son’s only wish being reconciliation between his two beloved females for the sake of his son; and the wife who wants to continue distancing herself from her mother-in-law. Though keeping the secret of what happened between Wallace and Elaine seems like an exorbitant loyalty price in which the innocent pay the costs, with some metaphysical elements enhancing the plot, readers will relish this entertaining look at the impact of dying and death on the loved ones.

Harriet Klausner

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