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An Intense Domestic Drama
on 20 September 2012
Webster, a young trainee paramedic, is called out one evening to help rescue a young woman from the car she has wrecked and, when he sees the victim, he finds her enticingly attractive with her glossy chestnut hair and her slender, long limbs. The young woman is called Sheila; she is unconscious, has been drinking heavily and is lucky to be alive. Sheila is rushed to hospital and this should be the end of the matter for Webster; however, he is very attracted to the beautiful young woman and, although he has been advised against contacting Sheila, he cannot resist visiting her. And so starts the love affair between a naïve young man and a woman who, although still young, already has a difficult and fairly tumultuous past life behind her, including a relationship with an abusive lover and a significant problem with alcohol. When Sheila falls pregnant shortly after she and Webster start seeing each other, Webster proposes marriage and Sheila, keen to settle with someone she can rely on, quickly accepts his offer. At first, the two of them appear to be happy and Sheila tries hard to reduce her alcohol intake; however after the birth of their daughter, Rowan, Sheila finds she needs a drink or two to help her to cope. And then one day, after drinking heavily, she gets into her car with Rowan in her child seat and drives off...
(No spoilers here, we learn most of this early on in the novel and there is a lot more for prospective readers to discover).
This was an entertaining read and, if you are interested in emergency medical procedures, you will find this a very interesting read also. I must admit that I could have done with a little less information about Webster's work and would have preferred Anita Shreve to have spent a little more time exploring her character's motivations, especially as I found Sheila an interesting protagonist and would have appreciated learning more about her and her problems; I would also have liked to have discovered more about what happened to her after her second accident - but I cannot explain further without revealing spoilers. That said, I found this compassionately told domestic drama an absorbing and interesting story, and although I would not regard it as one of Shreve's best, it is certainly worth a read.