The Worst Thing I've Done, by Ursula Hegi (New York: Touchstone, 2007)
Jacket Summary: "Tonight, Annie is driving alone from North Sea to Montauk and back again, as she has every night since her husband, Mason, challenged what she believed about herself and about their marriage. Eating junk food and listening to talk radio, Annie tries to shut out her rage, her pain, but Mason's voice persists within her, as urgent as the voices of the anonymous callers who confess their misery to the radio psychologists.
"Once again, Ursula Hegi writes along that border where bliss and sorrow meet. Sensuous, funny, and mysterious, her new novel takes us into an exuberant and troubled friendship. Since early childhood, Annie, Jake, and Mason have had a special bond. When Annie's parents die on the same night that she and Mason are married, the three friends decide to raise Annie's newborn sister, Opal, together.
"Annie struggles to be both a sister and a mother to Opal, a wife to Mason, and a friend to Jake. Not surprisingly, their relationships, already entangled, grow dangerous, too close, on the line. One fateful night the three friends miss the moment when they could still turn back, and the goad each other to step across the line, with shocking, unforeseen consequences.
"Set on the East End of Long Island, The Worst Thing I've Done is an incandescent story of love, friendship, and marriage; of joy and betrayal; of an artist's struggle to reconnect with her work; and of how we can choose our mothers, our families. Beautifully written and brilliantly vivid, it explores the resilience in the protagonists' lives, and their courage to move forward despite an uncertain future."
Opening Line: "Tonight, Annie is driving from North Sea to Montauk and back to North Sea as she has every night since Mason killed himself."
My Take: Enjoyed Hegi's Stones from the River when I read it several years back, and am curious to see her tackle a contemporary setting with which I'm somewhat familiar.
Well, it wasn't quite The Worst Thing I've Read in 2010 (though that would make for an amusing parallel), but it was deeply disappointing. Here I was hoping for the kind of unusual characters and compelling circumstances I enjoyed in Stones, and instead, I felt like I'd stumbled into a rehashed Anne Rivers Siddons novel in the wrong cover. What a waste. Very glad I only borrowed and didn't buy this one.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.