First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Alison Jean Lester for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
I always enjoy discovering new authors, something that comes with the territory as an active book reviewer. When asked to read the latest piece by Alison Jean Lester, I obliged, keeping an open mind and sense of curiosity. The novel explores human connection on a variety of levels, including how deep it can run, even with the impediment of memory loss. Lester leaves much for the reader to consider throughout.
Leo is excited that his wife, Liv, will soon be home from her trip to Norway and has been preparing for her arrival. It’s also Liv’s birthday, something else to celebrate. When a knock comes at the door, Leo finds himself face to face with Morten, Liv’s half-brother. Not wanting to appear rude, Lee invites Morten inside and they await Liv’s return. All the while, Leo cannot shake that he has heard nothing about Morten in all the time Liv has been in his life.
When Liv is delayed for unknown reasons, Leo and Morten get to know one another a little better and take some time to travel around New England, a day trip that proves somewhat fruitful. The days pass, and still no Liv, though she does call and leave a message that she will be home soon. Leo is still unsure what’s going on, as this does not seem to be the wife he’s known.
When Liv does arrive back in Boston, she has no memory of anything, unsure what’s happened to her. Leo takes her in for some tests and discovers that it is some form of amnesia. It could take days or weeks to rectify things, but Leo will not give up. This may explain the oddities, though Leo is determined to get all the pieces back in order as soon as possible.
Due to her memory loss, Liv knows nothing about Morten, which is to be expected. However, something seems off and Leo cannot entirely put his finger on it. During an explosive moment of memory regeneration, Liv is able to connect the dots and remembers Morten, though not as he has presented himself. It’s up to Leo to synthesise it all and determine what’s going on, as well as how best to move forward. It is only then that Leo learns the truth about Morten and how significantly this man has disturbed things.
There is no doubt that Alison Jean Lester can write, as her story flowed fairly well throughout. The premise was strong and kept me intrigued throughout. It is a well-paced story set in Boston, with strong Norwegian undertones throughout. Lester leans on this at times, keeping the reader wondering how strong the European connection will be to the overall reading experience.
Leo remains the protagonist throughout, discovering much about himself and those around him. He struggles with a past that is full of peaks and valleys, though is also trying to come to terms with much in his present life, things that he could not have expected to experience. Slowly, he comes to terms with these bumps in the road, though it is not entirely clear how well he can cope with too many unknowns floating around him.
The story moved along well, keeping the reader entertained as the narrative gained some momentum at various spots. The twists and plot reveals kept things from being too predictable, though there were no gasping moments in my opinion. With decent characters and a clearer plot line, I cannot fault Lester on her efforts. However, the entire experience came off as a little too folksy for me. Perhaps I am too used to cutting edge thrillers and mysteries that offer grit, but it lacked some chilling drama that the pretence of the story left available. Things seemed too calm and docile, particularly when the revelations that come to the surface. There was a moment in the latter portion of the book, but it, too, fizzled into a form of resolution before too long. Again, that could be on me, though I was hoping for something a little more intense and chilling, rather than gliding from one revelation to another, if you pardon the pun.
Kudos, Madam Lester, on a well-written piece. I hope others take note and enjoy the twists you embed into your writing.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons