Book review for
Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams
Author of A Hundred Summers and The Secret Life of Violet Grant
I have never been a fan of the books or movies that follow the life of an object: the pants that get traded from one person to another or the mysterious box that curses every person who ends up being suckered into buying the darned thing. The connection between characters is too weak, the conceit too visible for my tastes.
This work, however, takes that premise and adds a twist. When a classic convertible is sold by a woman who has dedicated quite some time and effort to restoring the vehicle, the buyer turns out to be a woman who used the car to flee from the Third Reich and all its attenuating despair.
At heart, this work is a romance that weaves together two stores. One of a modern woman who became involved with a politician (another powerful figure, albeit in modern times) and one who became involved with a Nazi (who held a much more sinister type of power, and one that we all hope will continue to exist only in the past).
When the two women meet to transfer ownership of the car, they embark on a road trip that takes them down the roads of their own personal histories. One is far in the past and one more recent.
These parallel journeys should work better than they do. Part of the problem is that the work is written with a style that mirrors much of the contemporary romance genre, and isn’t terribly interested in depth. Details, yes…and that is where this particular story really shines.
The stories of each woman are well worth the time involved in engaging with the narrative. The ending is not a tight wrapup of all that came before, which asks a bit more of readers, and allows them to overlay their own desires for each character onto the story.
So overall, this is an engaging read that has much to offer in part because it doesn’t fit into the typical romance or women’s fiction plot that is so overdone. Quite an original concept!
For a different type of road journey that reveals much about the life of an individual left bereft by events outside their control, try The Family Made of Dust, winner of two national awards.