I had seen this in the Used Book Store before. While it seemed to be a book club favorite, it also looked like a bit of a chick book. Then I saw it on the list of audio books available for download from the library and gave it a second look.
Margaret, a wealthy, divorced 75 year-old woman in Seattle is diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. She lives alone in an old mansion and her scary try-it-before-you-die thing is to open her home to a boarder. So she places an ad in the paper and finds Wanda. A young stage manager type who came to town to find the guy that dumped her in New York.
So you can see why I thought it was a chick book.
Two things happen as the book evolves: first, the cast of characters broadens. Margaret meets a gentleman friend. He moves in. The caterer at the theatre, a hospice nurse, Wanda’s assistant (not so secretly in love with her).
Also, Margaret’s secret is this: her money came from her father, who collaborated with bad people who stole the valuables of Jewish families after they were arrested and sent off to concentration camps. Many of these valuables are still in her house. Margaret spent some time prior to the action of the novel, trying to find the families and return the possessions with no luck.
So here is the scheme: they start breaking the porcelain and Wanda uses the pieces to create mosaics that honor the victims of the Holocaust.
And lots of other stuff happens.
I’d be all la la la, nice little story…and then stop. Because something just got heavy.
The narrative is just a bit too..tied up with a bow on the top. But the theme of the story – broken people/broken stuff – was quite compelling. I am very glad that I gave it a chance.