Fiction — print. Penguin, 2011. 256 pgs. Library copy.
In 1956, a woman nicknamed Bill living in South Africa is being badgered by her late husband’s accountant to create a will, an action that causes her to reflect on the secrets of her past. In the 1920s, she eloped with a Jewish man and became pregnant before her parents could annul the marriage. Rather than allow their daughter to remain married, Bill is sent to live with her three spinster aunts who hid her in their house and arrange for the adoption of her child without Bill’s permission.
I picked this book up at the library because it deals with themes previously discussed in a book I read earlier this month. Admittedly, the cover was the what attracted my attention as I browsed the shelves, but the topic was what caused me to check it out.
The narrative is structured so that the past is revealed in parallel to the present. Chapters switch between the 20s, 30s, and 50s and are clearly demarcated as such so that it is not a confusing structure. And I thought it was really interesting how Bill decided to share her secret with her teenage sons, how that decision helped firm up her rocky relationship with the two.
Unfortunately, overall, it was not the strong read I was hoping it would be. I know the topic can be heart wrenching , but the novel never rose to the challenge of being emotionally impacting. I felt for Bill up until the point where she becomes involved with another woman’s husband in the 1930s. That part of the novel was completely lost upon me.