While I Was Gone - Abridged Author:Sue Miller 4 cassettes / 5 hours — Read by Blair Brown — A decade ago she put a face on every mother's worst nightmare with her phenomenal bestseller The Good Mother. Now, Sue Miller delivers a spellbinding AudioBook of love and betrayal that explores what it means to be a good wife. — In the summer of 1968, Jo Becker ran out on the marriage and the li... more »fe her parents wanted for her, and escaped - for one beautiful, idyllic year - into a life that was bohemian and romantic, living under an assumed name in a rambling group house in Cambridge. It was a time of limitless possibility, but it ended in a single instant when Jo returned home one night to find her best friend lying dead in a pool of blood on the living room floor.
Now Jo has everything she's ever wanted: a veterinary practice she loves, a devoted husband, three grown daughters, a beautiful Massachusetts farmhouse. And if occasionally she feels a stranger to herself and wonders what happened to the freedom she once felt, or how she came to be the wife, mother, and doctor her neighbors know and trust - if at times she feels as if her whole life is vanishing behind her as she's living it - she need only look at her daughters or her husband, Daniel, to recall the satisfactions of family and community and marriage.
But when an old housemate settles in her small town, the fabric of Jo's life begins to unravel: seduced again by the enticing possibility of another self and another life, she begins a dangerous flirtation that returns her to the darkest moment of her past and imperils all she loves.
While I Was Gone is an exquisitely suspenseful novel about how quickly and casually a marriage can be destroyed, how a good wife can find herself placing all she holds dear at risk. In expert strokes, Sue Miller captures the precariousness of even the strongest ties, the ease with which we abandon each other, and our need to be forgiven. An extraordinary book, her best, from a beloved American writer.« less
This is a story of how one womans past comes back to haunt her, when a man she knew 25 years ago, moves into the small New England town, where Jo is a veterinarian and happily married. Jo finds her "old friend," Eli, upsetting and at the same time tantalizing. Can she confront her past yet stay true to her marriage?
I loved the authors penchants for detail and good dialogue. It helped to make the story "real." This novel is a "page-turner," with many surprises!
Very well written, but I did find it difficult to relate to the main character. Although I cannot personally relate to the inner struggles Jo experienced, I think that Sue Miller did an excellent job of creating a flawed heroine...a survivor of the "late 1960's, early 1970's" era of American culture. I couldn't put this book down once I got into it.
Sue Miller allows the reader to reflect on their own life at the same time as the main character, Jo. Or was that just me? I read the book in a smooth fashion and while my brain computed Miller's story, it also computed my own story. My own memories, my own past, my own connections from the past to the 'now.' The character's thoughts were potent, raw and brutally honest. I loved the pace, the anticipation, the suspense that Miller eloquently builds page to page. A sparkling book with so many 'real life' moments.
From the back cover, "Fascinating . . . A New Novel of Great Integrity and Power . . . Despite having a loving husband, three vivacious daughters, a beautiful home in rural Massachusetts, and satisfaction in her work, Jo Becker's mind is invaded by a persistent restlessness. Then, an old roommate reappears to bring back Jo's memories of her early 20s . . . . Her obsession with that period of her life and with the crime that concluded it eventually estrange Jo from everything she holds dear, causing her to tell lie after lie as she is pulled closer to this man from her past...and to a horrible secret." Well, yes, that does describe it, but I think it deserved a little more mention of the fact that the book really connects her present life with her past in a way that the past is very involved in her life now. It is an easy ready, found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn't reading the book ... that's my judgment of a pretty good book. I liked it.
review from Amazon.com:
Oprah Book Club® Selection, May 2000: In her still startling debut, The Good Mother, Sue Miller explored the premium we put on passion--and the terrible burden it places on a mother and child. Her fourth novel, While I Was Gone, is another study in familial crime and punishment. But this time, her wife and good mother is accessory to more than emotional malfeasance. Jo Becker has everything a woman could desire: a loving spouse, contented children, and a nice dog or two. When her New England veterinary practice takes on a new client, however, her past comes back to haunt her. Long ago, it seems, Jo had escaped her family and identity for a commune in Cambridge. Her Aquarian illusions came to an abrupt, bloody end when one of her housemates was brutally murdered.
Now this unhappy era returns in the person of Eli Mayhew, who had been the odd man out in Jo's boho household. His appearance is both tantalizing and upsetting: "Inside, I slowed down. I felt numbed. I had two last patients, and then I told Beattie to go home, that I'd close up.... I refiled the last charts, sprayed and wiped the examining table. I reviewed my list of routine surgeries for Wednesday. All the while I was thinking of Eli Mayhew, and of Dana and Larry and Duncan and me, and our lives in the house. Of the horrible way it had all ended." Sue Miller's fine novel is a penetrating--and sensuous--portrait of a woman besieged by her conscience. While I Was Gone also demonstrates that in the face of distance and betrayal, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing indeed. --Winnie Wheaton--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.