Anita Shreve is the author of many acclaimed works, including Eden Close, The Weight of Water, The Last Time They Met, Sea Glass, All He Ever Wanted and Light on Snow. She lives in Massachusetts.
In Shreve's smooth if unsurprising latest (after A Change in Altitude), EMT Peter Webster is drawn to a woman he rescues at the scene of a one-car drunk driving accident. Webster is well intentioned, but alcoholic Sheila, with her dangerous history, could prove beyond his efforts to save her, though the two embark on an affair that evolves into marriage and parenthood with the birth of their daughter, Rowan. Sheila's drinking, meanwhile, escalates until she causes another accident, this time with young Rowan in the car, causing Webster to send Sheila away to avoid jail time. Years later, with not a word from long-gone Sheila, Rowan is a typically turmoil-ridden high school senior-moody, her grades slipping, drinking-and her tribulations prompt Webster to reach out to Sheila to help his daughter. Webster and Sheila are more type than character-good-hearted man, damaged woman incapable of love-and the paramedic rescue scenes feel mostly like opportunities for Shreve to show off her research. Still, the story runs like a well-oiled machine and should sate the author's fans. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Webster, a paramedic living with his parents in rural Vermont, meets Sheila Arsenault when he pulls her, bloodied and unconscious, out of a car wreck caused by her driving under the influence of alcohol. Her glossy brown hair draws him compulsively back, and he steadfastly ignores all warning signs as their relationship develops. Restlessness, a decidedly rocky past, and hints of alcoholism surround Sheila as their affair barrels into marriage and an unexpected pregnancy. An act of Sheila's finally causes their breakup, and Webster is left as the single father of two-year-old daughter Rowan. Years later, he must revisit decisions made during his marriage, as Rowan's teenage years begin to mirror her mother's history. Shreve, the best-selling author of The Pilot's Wife and Testimony, brings her usual balance of tension, family drama, and debatably likable characters to the mix in this story of love, duty, addiction, and loss. VERDICT For Shreve fans and all contemporary fiction lovers, this is a solid read, though not the author's most compelling or dazzling work. Excellent fodder for book clubs; there is plenty to discuss in the protagonists' motivations, decisions, and characterization. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/10.]-Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.