where i lost her
It can be dangerous to approach an author you used to like more than a decade past but haven't read for years. Unfortunately, I find more often than not that I'm disappointed in attempting to rediscover a writer - which isn't always a fault of the author but rather just the different stages and preferences in a reader's life.
I used to love T. Greenwood. Many years ago, I read Breathing Water, Nearer Than the Sky, and Undressing the Moon. And then, she sort of just fell off my radar. Sort of are the operative words in that sentence, because I liked her enough to continue tracking her, but found that I either wasn't drawn in by the synopses of her newer works, or when I attempted to read the first chapters, they didn't work for me.
But when Kensington offered Where I lost Her for early review (the book was actually released on February 23rd; I've been a bit behind until now), I felt like we've aligned once again. The synopsis was in-line with many of the types of novels I've been into lately, and I was excited to try her again.
Yay! It paid off!
This is the sort of writing I like from Greenwood:
"Our bodies carry no evidence of those who have loved us. If they did, if they bore the imprints of everyone's hands, every child's wet cheek, every mother's palm, if our flesh carried the ghosts of all the hands that have touched us, then we might be more careful."
Greenwood seems to specialize in writing about the relationships between mothers and daughters (this, based on the books I've read - I cannot speak to the others). She continues the theme here, but with a twist of a mystery. Tess is visiting her childhood friend in rural Vermont when, going for an ill-advised late night wine run, she almost runs into a three or four year old girl standing in the middle of the highway, alone and injured. She stops, of course, to help the little girl but the child runs off into the woods. A search ensues, but Tess' competency is (somewhat bafflingly) questioned.
Greenwood includes here one of the elements that irritates me in fiction - when everyone, including the protagonist, knows an element that is insinuated to be pertinent to the plot, but is kept from the reader. This is usually intended as an element of suspense. I'm perfectly fine with this situation, so long as it is also kept from the protagonist, but when it's withheld from the reader only, it feel both like authorial intrusion and also a bit like cheating. And in this particular story, when the element is finally revealed to the reader, I felt both like it could've been revealed earlier and also that it didn't quite carry the gravity/effect that was intended.
But that's primarily my only reservation. Otherwise, I was happy to re-immerse myself in a voice I enjoy, I was certainly driven to find out whether the child was an apparition or corporeal, and I liked the protagonist quite a lot (for some reason, not so much a trend in the books I've picked up lately). I'm inclined to categorize this novel as literary suspense, and I hope Greenwood continues with this sort of novel. Lovely and recommended!