Saturday, January 03, 2009
Without a Backward Glance
It's Christmas Eve 1967, in Australia. Rosemarie McDonald tells her children she's running out to buy some Christmas lights for the tree. And she never comes back.
Forty years later the McDonald siblings are all struggling with issues. Deborah, the eldest, is a bit of a control freak. She has let her job dominate her life, and is increasingly distant from her husband and child. Robert deals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and is trying to stop it from taking over his life. James has settled for friendship over passion in his marriage. And Meredith, the baby, is an alcoholic. Additionally, their beloved father, Alex, is slipping into dementia.
Then unexpectedly, James finds their mother in England. Rosemarie is now Rose, a successful seamstress with a happy marriage. Rose's reappearance will affect all of the siblings, although to different degrees.
I really enjoyed the characters and the story. I was surprised it was set in Australia, as that seems to be something I never caught in all the reviews I read of this book. Since I like me a foreign setting, that was a pleasant surprise. However, it seemed that the reappearance of Rose coincided with the resolution of everyone's problems. By the end of the book everything had been wrapped up quite tidily...granted, not everyone gets a happily ever after, but it's darn close.
Veitch also painted Rosemarie as a total bitch in the beginning of the book. However, the older Rose was a much more sympathetic character. It's evident that suburban motherhood was not for her, yet I also found it a bit odd that someone who never really apologizes is so easily accepted back into the family. When it comes right down to it, I think I would have liked the book even better if Rose had never returned. Or been edited out.