At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in a washed-out California town for a London winter of drinking and abandon. Twenty years later, she is a San Francisco lighting designer and happily married mother of three who has put her reckless youth behind her. Then a photo from that distant winter in Europe arrives inexplicably in her mailbox, and an old obsession is awakened. Past and present collide, Annie's marriage falters, and her son takes a car ride that ends with his life hanging in the balance. Now Annie must fight for her family by untangling the mysteries of the turbulent winter that drew an invisible map of her future.
As I mentioned right away, the writing is very good:
"Denial, as any addict will tell you, is not defined as knowing something and pretending you don't; it is failing to see it at all."
"...your father and I live in separate houses, and your sisters are passed between us like a restaurant dessert."
"A column of gnats hovered above the grass. From where I reclined, it looked like rain afraid to land."
But I also had several issues with the book:
1. I was confused about the timeframe. I couldn't tell if her son had one accident or two. I got very confused between the summer before and the recent early Spring. I'm still not sure about that.
2. And because of my confusion, there seems to be a period of time where she does not visit her son in the hospital. Both of these concerns could easily be on me. I concede that possibility!
3. The book is written by Annie to her son. Maybe it's when he's in a coma. And maybe she never intended him to see or hear it. But she is relating sexual situations and drinking escapades that I'm pretty sure most parents wouldn't share with their 20-year old child.
4. Although I thought the last 50 pages wrapped up the story pretty well, I never did make an emotional connection with any of the characters. This could be because Annie "wrote" the whole story in memoir form. I'm not sure if that played a part of what was missing for me.
You/we all know how un-literary I am. My issues with A Small Indiscretion may have a lot to do with my own confusion and simple lack of understanding with the events and their chronology. Regardless, I still feel the way I feel. Would I read Jan's next book? Yes I would.