I’m also sort of not ok with playing fast and loose with history. Marcel Proust’s mother = a real person. Her diaries as presented in this book = not real and (as Taylor admits in the afterword) many of the ‘facts’ = doctored. Which, dude. If you’re going to totally make shit up, why use a real person at all? Why not invent a woman and then falsify her diaries all you like? Hell, base it loosely on Mme Proust and conjure up a Jewish intellectual woman with a sensitive literary son, but call her something else, and my problems with you (in this area) are fin.
Ok so. Triple-story-line! Mme Proust writes diary entries about her sickly son (circa 1890s). Marie translates them into English (now-ish) while she tries to figure out what went wrong with her non-boyfriend Max (a handful of years ago-ish). And then way over here we have Sarah who was sent to Canada during WWII (you know when that was) and we’re all, The hell does this plot thread have to do with anything? But then Sarah grows up to be a fretful mother (tie in with Mme Proust, check!) whose gay son (double-check!) turns out to be the non-boyfriend Max. Circle of life, my friends.
And, ehhhhhhh. My friend Alicia has this theory about Canadian authors, and how they feel like, in order to be an Author of Literature, they can’t pony up the happy ending. Not, you know, slim shards of hope and things, but unicorns and rainbows, gold-dusted puppies, happily-ever-after. Which, too much of that will give you diabetes of the soul, but once in a while it is nice. A spoonful of that would have been nice here.
So, not horrible, but if I hadn’t been reading it for book club, I probably would have put it down halfway through and then forgotten I was reading it until it was two weeks overdue, and then my fines would be over the limit and I would actually have had to have paid them. So, thanks, book club, for saving me from myself!
Also, five caterpillars.