The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D. ~ Nichole Bernie
Genre: Adult Fiction
Source: A win from Nadia at A Bookish Way of Life (thanks!)
When Kate’s best friend, Elizabeth meets an untimely end in an ill-fated cross-continental flight, the loss is almost too much to process
Though the women met in midlife, both coming to motherhood from well established careers, they formed a bond that outlasted the other Stepford-ish wives in their small Connecticut suburb. Even when Kate and her family moved hours away to D.C., the two stayed in touch and continued to get together on summer vacations. As Kate wrangled her brood northward, each year, to the beach, they usually still stopped in to say a “hello” as they passed by.
As can be expected, the summer following the plane catastrophe brings about a somber meet up for the two clans.
It also becomes slightly tense in an unpredicted way when Kate receives news that she is the one and only beneficiary of Elizabeth’s most prized material possession: an antique trunk of journals. For Kate, the journals come as a blessing and a curse. They are an incredible emotional tie to the friend she no longer has; they are also a sore spot, however, with both her husband and Elizabeth’s husband for different reasons (both men think that, perhaps Elizabeth’s journals and thoughts should be kept with her own family instead of running about the New England coast line with a “mommy friend”). Kate, herself, is not quite sure that getting into her friend’s mind is the best place to “get” when she is attempting to process and move on.
Always a loyal friend, though, Kate is determined to figure out why Elizabeth chose to will the trunk of memories to her.
What she finds inside the pages is a very different Elizabeth from the one she knew. These new discoveries come together to create an entirely different picture from the one previously erected and they begin to weave a strange concept of who Elizabeth really was and what truly lead to her last plane ride.
Though the story is built around some pretty dreary subjects, the overall feel of the book is one of second chances, understanding and earthly redemption. Through deep reflection on various battles of The Mommy Wars, family life and marital discord (and eventual harmony), the story is incredibly real and touching on many levels. I wasn’t sure I would dig yet another women’s fiction read. Perhaps my location right on the waterfront helped my perception of this beach read but I’d like to think that I’d have these people and places lingering in my brain even if I’d enjoyed this on a winter’s night back in the city.