Goodreads: 1916. It was the one thing Bridget was supposed to never let happen. But no matter how many times she replayed the steps in her head, she couldn’t reanimate the small pale boy who lay limp in her arms.
1976. Billie felt as if she’d been wrenched in half more surely than when the baby had been cut from her body. But she felt something else too: happy to think only of her own needs, her own tears. So light she could float away, somewhere no one would ever find her.
The present. Even if Cait never found her birth mother, even if she decided not to have this baby, to leave her lover and kiss her parents good-bye, she was surrounded by so much emotion, so many questions, that she felt as if she might never be free again.
Can we ever atone for the sins of the past? Or does each generation of women invent itself anew? In a complex and beautifully told masterpiece set against key moments for women in the last century, New York Timesbestselling author Pamela Redmond intertwines the heartrending stories of Bridget, Billie, and Cait, and explores the ways in which one woman’s choices can affect her loved ones forever. As these three women search for identity and belonging, each faces a very personal decision that will reverberate across generations, tearing apart families, real and imaginary, perfect and flawed, but ultimately bringing them together again.
My take: This was an intriguing book! I very much enjoyed the three storylines, beginning completely differently and with different characters. Each woman is very well developed and distinct. Each story is completely unlike the other in the beginning then share some important commonalities, and finally they weave together for the reader. There is a big reveal as they join together but it's not as big as it is made out to be. Clearly, one of the protagonists did not know the secret but the reader could basically guess it fairly early on.
Today we have Cait, a single, mid-thirty year old woman establishing her career and doing quite well. She is an only child of aging parents and she's adopted. She's also pregnant. Oops. This begins her search for her birth mother as she struggles with the doubts of her own capability to love a child of her loins. Why was she placed? Didn't her birth mother love her? Cait's voice is one I found easy to follow. She's today's woman, grappling with the ghosts of her past and the societal pressures based on the women's movement in the past century. Both the positive and negative impacts are explored.
In 1916, we had Bridget. Fresh from Ireland and working as a nanny for Maude, a rich New York woman who enjoyed her social life but not her husband or young son. This story was mesmerizing because of the historical nature of the women's movement in its infancy, and attitudes towards ethnic groups and nationalities and the divide between rich and poor. This story evolves very quickly as life was unpredictable, as best.
Then we have Billie in 1976. She begins in San Francisco where she is cleaning out her father's home since he recently died, leaving her an orphan, although she's 19 years old. She discovers she is not alone as she believed and drives cross - country with her good friend, Jupe, to meet her paternal grandmother. Again, fascinating description of the time period. A different ethnic group and still a divide between the rich and poor, and the vocabulary is also different than what we use today.
Eventually, the stories tie together beautifully and it's a nice, interesting yet easy read.
Dialogue: Laden with sex talk and occasional swearing, offensive descriptors but appropriate for time period (Negro, queer)