Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Losing Charlotte by Heather Clay

Have you ever held a book in your hands and known you were going to treasure it? Sure, I read the review first, requested it from the library, but when I had to decide which of my six to tackle first I knew. Losing Charlotte with the running horse blurring amidst a deep green cover.

The heart of this story is one of the what ifs we all ponder - What happens when a woman dies after childbirth? It is unfathomable and tragic and all too real. A young woman grows round, incubates life (x2) and then suddenly dies. How does her husband care for these two twins while facing an unfathomable reality -- the reality he never considered? And what becomes of the young woman's family?

The characters in this story are real and nuanced. I understood Bruce -- a child who grew up in NYC with a Jewish mother. That is known to me. Knox and Charlotte, products of Kentucky and a horse breeding family are outside my world. But they were all rich and developed. Clay has a real sense for human detail, and a variety of lifestyles. She easily captured the realities of totally different subsets of people. She clearly has an eye for the bite of the real.

I loved what Clay chose to tell and even what she chose to leave out. The pacing of her story was spot on. And while the story unfolded in different directions a complete picture was crafted.

While one can assume from the blurb where the story is going -- it happens in a more human way. There is a true "real" element to a myriad of the scenes in the book.

As a reader, my heart broke for the motherless babies, and poor widowed Bruce. I loved the boy he once was and his unique narration of an event which occured during his formative years involving a friend who lost his mother (one of the instances where Clay chooses such amazing elements of the past to include). Having seen this loss through his eyes as a youngster, one can't help but feel deep empathy for the man he becomes.

I loved the emotion of the story. I was drawn in and hungry for closure. In the end I wanted more which is always a sign that I love a story.

I feel Clay understands people deeply. She does such an amazing job of relaying her characters complex thoughts. Towards the end I would have liked more of Bruce's narrating but I understand that Knox is the main storyteller.

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