Monday, May 26, 2008

Twice Loved by LaVyrle Spencer ****

Continuing on with my Glom of LaVyrle Spencer, I am almost finished reading the Big Box of Hardcovers. Twice Loved was one that pretty much squeezed my heart until I thought I couldn't take it any more, and I don't know if I'll be able to read it and go through this again. It was so heart-wrenching and never really uplifting, like Morning Glory was, even the ending, because frankly there was no way to have a completely happy ending, even though the hero and heroine do get together.

The plot: it's about 1837, and a sailor returns to Nantucket where he left his bride 5 years earlier.

The backstory: 3 children are close playmates, best friends, 2 boys - Dan and Rye - and a girl Laura, all through their childhood - but Laura only has eyes for Rye as they mature. Laura and Rye marry, and Rye goes to sea to make his fortune. He doesn't know that Laura is pregnant - and that his ship has gone down with all hands aboard after he is left in a foreign port with the smallpox.

The news of the ship's demise gets back to Nantucket, and since he is assumed dead with everyone else on board, Dan convinces Laura to marry him so that he can take care of her and her son. He's always carried a torch for her, and he raises Rye's son Josh as his own.

The son is only 4 when Rye returns - he has no idea that Dan isn't his father. In fact, it was heartbreaking to me that Rye's parents were never even acknowledged as the grandparents, and Rye's mother also dies while he is away. When Rye returns, his best friend now has his wife, his son, his house - everything except his dog, who left Laura to live with Rye's father after she remarried.

I spent the whole book in such agony - the law was on Dan's side, and his marriage to Laura the legal one. He's so desperately in love with Laura but can feel that she is still in love with Rye. However - she stays with Dan while trying to decide what she wants - a decision that may have made sense but still was agonizing to read. Dan starts drinking and staying away from her; Rye stays in town, giving Laura time to come to some kind of decision, which she drags on and on and on until I thought I would die from it as well.

Rye gets a chance to leave Nantucket and go to Michigan - and he finally forces Laura to choose. Of course, the whole town is in on the entire sordid affair, and the son learns that Rye is his real father through a friend. Needless to say, a 4 yr-old can't really understand. I went back and forth over this in my own mind - should she have had her son keep his real father's name? Should she have told him? But can a 4 year old understand something like this? And since it's 1837, and truly everyone believed him dead, how could it make any difference?

When Rye tries to form another relationship, Laura is desperately jealous. That was incredibly two-faced of her, in my own mind - if she felt she had any claim to Rye, she should have at least stopped sleeping with Dan while she decided which one she wanted! And once she decides it will be Rye and she promises to tell Dan, she commits adultery with Rye - and then doesn't tell Dan she wants a divorce! Arrrrgggg - I was so anguished for Rye, every minute while reading this story.

In the end, Dan basically lets Laura go by initiating divorce proceedings himself - Laura, in my own mind, never has the courage to tell Dan what her decision is. So while Rye and Laura do get together and take Josh to Michigan, of course Dan and Josh are both devastated by their separation - Josh, from the only father he has known up to this point, and Dan from his love Laura, his best friend Rye and the boy he has raised.

Even a "happily ever after" ending couldn't bring my spirits up for this book, because all of them suffered so much. Still - 4 stars. Just thinking about it again has me filled with the anguish - Spencer can really make you feel what each character is feeling.

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