Title: The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D
Author: Nichole Bernier
Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: Crown and AudioGo
Edition: eGalley and audio
Source: NetGalley/ and library
Setting: Massachusetts mostly
Date Completed: April - 2013
I almost passed on then book and then I read the setting for much was the Massachusetts coast; a perfect intro to summer. Wow, it's a terrific story and has no feel whatsoever of a "new debut author."
Two women, Elizabeth and Kate became very good friends after meeting up after years at a neighborhood playgroup. Elizabeth and Kate spent the years before motherhood living in New York City, where Elizabeth was an artist and Kate was a chef. Once they became mothers circumstances changed and, Kate and her family moved out of the area. Then tragically, just before 9/11, Elizabeth dies in a plane crash at the age of 38, leaving behind a husband and three children. Surprisingly, Elizabeth's will specifies that Kate should get her journals which she had kept up ever since she was a child. Dave, Elizabeth's husband, is somewhat shocked by this revelation and curious about what was contained within these journals. Recently he had suspected that his wife was possibly having an affair.
Kate is surprised as well to learn about the journals. She and her husband, Chris, pick up the locked trunk with the diaries on their way to Great Rock Island for a long summer vacation with their children; the year is 2002. Over their vacation, Kate’s reads each journal, following Elizabeth's instructions to read them in order beginning back with her childhood. Kate becomes completely obsessed with the task and realizes how very little she really knew about her friend Elizabeth, her sad childhood, her struggles with being a mother and more. In the process, she begins to also question her own life, and her options.
The story is told through journal entries and Kate's reflections and reactions to what she had read. Kate's character was fully-fleshed out. At times she almost made me a bit nuts, as she is a very over-protective mom, to the nervous-wreck degree. There was so much about Elizabeth that Kate never knew until reading her most privately held thoughts on paper. I think it's important to note that there is really not much that is upbeat about this novel, yet it never felt depressing to me. It really makes the reader wonder about how well they really know even those they are close to. I think many of us keep a lot about ourselves and at least parts of our past private for fear of being judged by others. In the end I was really happy I spent some time with this book I think this would make a terrific book club discussion choice, especially for women/mothers. The audio version was read by, Angela Brazil who did a wonderful job.