A quiet story...,
This review is from: That Part Was True (Kindle Edition)
Elinor Lipman told me, in her review in the Feb 10th New York Times book review, that I should read the novel, "That Part Was True", by Deborah McKinlay. As Lipman is one of my favorite authors, I always read what she tells me to read. And I'm glad I did.
Deborah McKinlay's book is a quiet look at love and life on both sides of the Atlantic. Eve, a 40ish divorce with a complicated back-story and complicated familial relations, lives outside of London in a small village, where she has lived since her early divorce. As the daughter of a categorically horrid mother, she had basically turned the raising of her own daughter, Izzy, to her mother and paid staff. Eve has existed in her own world, a world which is centered around cooking. But now her mother has died and that daughter Eve was ineffective in raising is getting married. And with that wedding comes the emotional fallout that such life-occasions usually bring. Eve copes by having panic attacks and corresponding by letter with an American author Jackson Cooper.
Jack Cooper is slightly older than Eve - about to turn 50 - and his life is also at a crossroads. He's on his second divorce and has a bit of writer's block. Actually, he has a bit of the old American mid-life crisis; he simply doesn't know what he wants and even if he did know what he wanted, he doesn't seem to know how to get it. He also cooks for pleasure. Many of their letters center around their love of cooking and eating.
Okay, the average author would have taken these two interesting characters and after a short introduction to them and their quirks, would have had them meet, fall in love, have problems, and then...something. McKinlay has actually done that with the two young lovers, Izzy and Ollie. They're together and they love and they fight and they act as most characters in a comedy-of-manners would. But, our older couple, who bring with them both the scars and ribbons of past loves, are in a much more quiet and contemplative relationship. They both think about meeting in Paris - that mecca of fine food - but that's all it is, "thinking".
The reader knows that Eve and Jack will probably get together. But it's the "hows" and "whys" and "whens" that remain in question. Deborah McKinlay writes a wonderful book, filled with the "whos" of nuanced characters and places.