Millicent Carmichel is old and unhappy. She is not an ideal protagonist- not least because of the excessive drinking (more on that later). She has locked herself into a little life and is facing loneliness in all its forms. The quote below is a clear indication of her state of mind.
“Loved ones far away, but a more abstract galactic isolation, like a leaking boat bobbing in open water, no anchor or land in sight”
There has always been a debate about being alone vs loneliness, and this is an example of both. Missy is alone and spends her time trying to frame interesting enough emails to her son, who lives across the globe. She runs into two women on the same day, and this leads to more interactions that force her to look beyond her sorrow. Her despair is not so light that it can be pushed away with a friendship alone, Missy surrenders time and again to the darkness, but her friends bring her out as forcefully as they can. She (as are most of us) a work in progress despite all the decades she has spent on earth. At her time in life, and the situations force her to reexamine her history. Alternating chapters tell us of her college life and how she came to be where she is. I am not mentioning the other two women because discovering them and their hidden qualities and backgrounds are part of Missy’s journey that the reader ought to take with her.
I wept for all the sadness, and the small joys and the book would have been a five-star read if not for all that booze. I know I am in a tiny minority who consider alcohol a necessity for all social gatherings. I have laughed like mad people over the most random things and remembered them for years while all being completely sober (in the context of drink, that is). Anyway, seeing as the world at large consider it a social requirement means it plays significant roles in many books, and it never stuck out for me. In this book, however, between all those sad and happy moments, it felt jarring for the lead protagonists to be always either drinking or hungover. I know it served as a crutch for some trying times but I just felt the focus a lot!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.