Book review: Novel addresses the what-ifs of life
Book Review "The End of an Error" By Mameve Medwed published by Warner Books 309 pages, $24.95 After a pivotal point in your life, have you ever wondered, "What would have happened had I made a different decision?" Mameve Medwed answers that ques...
"The End of an Error"
By Mameve Medwed
published by Warner Books
309 pages, $24.95
After a pivotal point in your life, have you ever wondered, "What would have happened had I made a different decision?"
Mameve Medwed answers that question in her novel, "The End of an Error."
As a college student, Magnolia "Lee" takes a trip to Europe with her eccentric grandmother, Marguerite.
The unconventional woman pushes her granddaughter at the son of friends in England and Lee quiescently falls in love with Simon.
Lee returns home and begins corresponding with Simon. After her parents die in an airplane crash, Lee decides to marry Ben, a boy endorsed by her parents.
Now a middle-aged woman, Lee has published a memoir of her grandmother which includes the story of their trip to Europe and Lee finding her first love.
Lee is married and has three grown children. What will her husband say? Better question: What will her old flame say? In a rash moment, Lee has mailed a copy of the memoir to Simon.
Told in flashbacks, Lee's romance takes on a movie quality. You can almost feel the rain on your head and smell the wet wool as the pair of young lovers are caught in a London rain shower.
And yet Lee's husband Ben sounds like a good man. He's a solid citizen, a professor at the university who is working on a historical book on Nathaniel Tarbell.
Ben is so preoccupied with Nathaniel that Nathaniel is considered a member of the family. You wonder about the odds of Ben ever publishing the book, and just how much he loves Lee when he treats her book so condescendingly.
Readers are left guessing right up to end who the heroine will choose: her husband or her first love.
It might seem an easy premise for a gothic romance novel, but there's no bodice-ripping and no hunky guy pictured on the dust jacket.
Medwed has raised the level of the story to literary fiction with the skillful weaving of symbols and humor throughout the book. Images of birds and flowers aren't there for window dressing and make the novel sing with eloquence.
The other question that Medwed tries to answer is, "How do the actions of one affect the reactions of another?"
Grandma Marguerite takes on the role of mourner when Lee's parents are killed and leaves Lee out of the planning of their memorial service. In order to gain control of her destiny, she agrees to marry Ben.
What would have happened if Lee could have held the memorial service her way? How would her life have changed if she had written to Simon right away about their deaths?
And how might Marguerite have been changed had she been accepted by the plain-spoken Maine folk? A sophisticated socialite from Europe, Marguerite tried and failed to fit in with her husband's friends.
"You hid your wealth if you had any; you shielded your shining star if there was a gleam of it. Because you were surrounded by people less fortunate, it was your moral duty never to show off."
Titled, "The End of an Error," one is left guessing what the "error" is in Lee's life. Is it staying with Ben, giving up a true love in Simon, or is it obsessing over Simon when she's already married to a true love?
Long after the reader has decided what that error must be, along comes another answer.
Readers can reach staff writer Gail Gabrielson at (701) 241-5536.