Saturday, November 29, 2008

Coast Road by Barbara Delinsky ****

Coast Road has an interesting premise - a woman, divorced from her ex for 6 years - is in a car accident and a coma for 16 days. During the 16 days, her ex comes to take care of their children, and also spends time with her, urging her to come back. And in the course of these 16 days, we learn of their relationship - how they met, how they came to live in San Francisco, what led to the divorce and where they are today, mostly from the POV of the hero since the heroine is in a coma.

In addition, we meet the new friends she has made in her new life without him - a book club group of women, the neighbors, work-related friends, as well as the players in his life - a business partner, a steady girlfriend pushing for commitment. It was an interesting way to bring a group together, in tragedy, to test their relationships and force them to look at their lives.

Rachel is an artist, working on a set of paintings for a solo exhibit coming up in 3 weeks, and raising her 2 teenage daughters alone in a small community. Her ex is Jack, an architect in San Francisco - a "Sunday dad" who takes his daughters on weekends from time to time, when he can fit it into his workaholic life.

It was his commitment to building his practice that drove the 2 of them apart. In the city, she seemed to need all his time, while he missed out on school plays and sports meets to jet around the country drumming up business. She had no friends, no outside life except him and the girls.. In her new life, she's surrounded with people who care, who seem to know her better even than he did. Where did they go wrong? He reminisces about meeting her in college, and changing his schedule to take classes with her, be with her. But somehow, along the way, they didn't ever put voice to their future plans, and where his life went, she no longer felt a part and didn't share the dream.

A rather nosy, buttinsky friend spends a lot of time at the hospital with Jack - if not for her, he might not have learned what he did about her new life, things that made him face the truth about his "abandonment" of her. The way he saw it, she left him - and he had never really stopped loving her. He moves into Rachel's home to take care of the girls, and being forced to be the parent in charge, learns to appreciate even more what Rachel has had to face without him. The older daughter is facing her first prom, and is pushing the limits by switching allegiances at school from her safe, known friends, to the faster crowd. Without Rachel there to ask questions and make phone calls, she's able to convince Jack these kids are fine and he should trust her. The younger daughter is griefing for her elderly cat who is on the verge of death, and she is struggling with abandonment as well - first dad, then the cat and now possibly her mother.

I can't decide if it's Romance or Women's Fiction - somehow, not having the heroine participate changes things, although we get a lot of perspective of her before the accident. But I liked it - 4 stars.

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