While I Was Gone Author:Sue Miller Having moved on with her life after a friend was brutally murdered, Jo Becker is now married with a grown family, but when an old housemate moves into the neighborhood, Jo rekindles a relationship that takes her back to the past and threatens her future.
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.
"A beautiful and frightening book...swoops gracefully between the past and the present, between a woman's complex feelings about her husband and her equally complex fantasies-and fears-about another man..."
I felt that the "Converstion with Sue Miller" at the end of the book really helped to clarify things, and increased my satisfaction with the book.