Nichole Bernier: The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D
Source: Review copy
Publisher: Allen and Unwin (Bloomsbury)
Publication date: August 2012
Synopsis: Summer vacation with her family was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who’d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a plane crash. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.
The complicated portrait of Elizabeth – her upbringing, her marriage, and journey to motherhood – makes Kate question not just their friendship, but her own deepest beliefs about loyalty and honesty at a moment of uncertainty in her own marriage. When an unfamiliar man’s name appears in Elizabeth’s pages, Kate realises the extent of what she didn’t know about her best friend, including where she was really going when she died.
Written with grace, depth, and honesty, this is a story of two women – their friendship, their marriages, private ambitions and fears. And what they chose to keep hidden.
Review: I read The Unfinished Journals by Elizabeth D in a read-a-long hosted by Bree @ 1Girl2ManyBooks over a three week period. I really enjoyed my participation in the discussion posts and really appreciated all the readers’ different perspectives of the characters, the plot and the conflict. Lots of fun! So, since I’ve already written up a mini review on the first part of the book and I’ve left lengthy comments over at Bree’s blog, i’m just going to briefly state my overall thoughts here about the book and note my rating.
My ambivalence over connecting with the story quickly dissipated the moment Dave told Kate what he read in the journals, his discovery of his late wife’s association with the mysterious Michael.
My feelings for each of the main characters: Elizabeth, Dave, Kate and Chris changed and flowed as the story progressed as a different dimension was added to their personality and challenged what I initially may have thought or felt about a character. Likely, my transference from each of the characters discovering something new which was once unknown about their friend or partner. Kate was difficult to relate to for the most part of the story, but the more I understood her- especially in the final third of the book- I did warm to her.
Elizabeth was a fascinating character and I really empathised with her, the side of her that she she had to hide away and the side of her that she really worked hard to develop further. By the end of the book I felt as though I, just like Kate, was invading Elizabeth’s private world and I really came to agree with Kate that we all have secrets- whether a fleeting thought or something more pronounced- and that we present ourselves differently depending on the context, the people and our particular mood. I think Kate realises she can’t get hung up on all the things she didn’t know about Elizabeth and just appreciate the person she was, and the friendship they shared.
The Unfinished Journals of Elizabeth D explores relationships in a multitude of layers and exposes real-life issues faced in families: grief, pride, disappointment, hope and acceptance. It’s an engaging, thought-provoking read, one that will appeal to readers who value character exploration and the intricacies of relationships.
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