I've read everything Wally Lamb has written, and this plot sounded promising. Sadly, I found this novel lacking in comparison to his others.
It's the story of Anna Oh, an artist, wife, and mother, who has left her marriage of 27 years and is about to marry another woman: Viveca, a wealthy art dealer who helped Annie become a successful artist.
Annie has three children with her psychologist husband, Orion: Ariane, Andrew, and Marissa. The book spans all of these lives and many others.
Here are the three things I found difficult about the book--if you'll read other reviews you'll find a theme in my criticism of certain novels:
- Too many characters...did we really need to know about all of them? I also noted some convenient coincidences with some of the characters.
- Most of the characters were not really likable.
- Each chapter began with a different character perspective. This seems to be a popular novelistic approach, but it often makes it harder for me to connect with the characters or get drawn into the book.
Annie is a damaged soul--and we find out why--but I found it hard to sympathize with her much. The novel examines the generations of damage caused by sexual abuse, and reading it from the perspective of the pedophile was particularly difficult for me.
How many books do we have available that tackle the subject of a woman leaving her husband and getting married to another woman? This book could have treated that topic in a much more compassionate way. Instead, I found myself wondering what she saw in Viveca, who seems to be a shallow snob. Maybe Annie just doesn't choose very wisely...similar to her children.
Lamb digs deep into these characters' souls, and most of them have complex personalities. I guess I was just looking for more soul and redemption, which I've found in his other novels. This is still a good book, but not as great as his others.