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From the "New York Times"-bestselling author of "Stones from the River" comes this stunning, sexy novel of friendship and love--and of one horrible choice that changes everything.
- ISBN-13: 9781416543756
- ISBN-10: 1416543759
- Publisher: Touchstone Books
- Publish Date: October 2007
- Page Count: 260
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 29.
- Review Date: 2007-05-21
- Reviewer: Staff
The troubles specific to triangular relationships are explored with depth and substance in Hegi's complex and affecting latest. Annie, Jake and Mason—friends practically from the womb—have developed a fraught dynamic sharply affected by competitiveness, attraction and jealousy. The book's opening trauma—Mason's suicide—serves as a springboard for Hegi to delve into the friends' tangled past: Mason and Annie get married the same night Annie's father and very pregnant mother die in a car wreck. The baby, Opal, survives, and the three friends raise her. But festering attractions—Mason to Jake; Jake to Annie—lead Mason to cross a line, Annie to want out of the marriage and Jake to fail to act at a pivotal moment. Woven into the mix is the post-WWII story of Annie's immigrant mother, Lotte, and her friend Mechthild, who came to America from Germany to work as au pairs and pretended to be Dutch to avoid persecution. Though a bumper crop of tragedy weighs heavily on this controlled and articulate novel, Hegi (Sacred Time) is an accomplished storyteller; she inhabits different characters and blends the past with the present to tell a rich story of love, death, loyalty and survival. (Oct.)
Hegi charts a fateful love triangle
The author of 10 previous books, including Stones From the River and Salt Dancers, Ursula Hegi was born in Germany and has won more than 30 grants and awards. In The Worst Thing I've Done, she explores a dicey situation in which one character, out of the unhappy depths of self-doubt and despair, prods others into an unforgettable and destructive act that decimates the emotional territory they all inhabit. These are not completely likable people, but they are recognizable in readers' acquaintancesand mirrors.
Perhaps it was inevitable. Making a twosome (Annie and Mason) out of what had been a childhood threesome (including friend Jake) was bound to cause trouble. It might have worked out if Mason hadn't been so jealous of Annie, always one move beyond reasonable. But then again, maybe not, given Mason and Annie's plunge into parenthood on the very day of their wedding, when a traffic accident killed Annie's pregnant mother, leaving them to raise her premature baby. Parents too early, they found "rage and confusion" tearing at their marriage, and years later Annie decides reluctantly that she must leave her husband. Before she can act on her decision, "he [does] the leaving for her."
Recounted by several voices, the story is one of intricate relationships, in which a character sometimes risks destroying precious things simply to prevent others from doing so. Annie, an artist who creates collages that mirror her life and feelings, finds that her aesthetic urges simply cannot meet the demands of her heart. Only after months of intense labor does her work finally begin to respond to the healing that happens only with time and doggedness, so that the collages once more reflect the range of her emotions.
Although Hegi expresses in down-to-earth terms her impatience with certain 21st-century American political figures, an even more interesting feature of this book is her style. Surpassing that in some of her earlier books, Hegi's prose often dances on a surreal shimmer of imagination invested with reality. Ocean allegories involving sand castles, fiddler crabs and luminous jellyfish challenge the reader to partner with them on "the edge of dare"to arrive eventually into a safe, if slightly exposed, harbor.