Wednesday, May 21, 2014
'All My Belongings' by Cynthia Ruchti
Jayne Dennagee has spent her life running from the doctor death legacy of her father. His Kervorkian-copycat methods of euthanasia ruined her childhood, covering it in shame. She won t let him steal her future, too. After changing her name to Becka, she assumes a new life and new job caring for the ailing mother of a handsome young businessman, Isaac Hughes. Becka struggles to sort out her feelings for her new boss just as her patient passes away under unusual circumstances. Suddenly, her past catches up with her and the unnerving details of her heritage make Becka look like a murder suspect. Worse, all sense of home and all hope for love vanish.
Even if she could clear her name, a phone call from prison wraps a suffocating shroud around her heart. Her father is out and he needs her help. Can Becka open her new life to the man who has prematurely taken so many? Or will her father s legacy make it impossible to open her heart at all?
Jayne Dennagee's father, Bertram, was a doctor who used euthanasia on his patients when he thought it best, but he would take the decision entirely in his own hands, with no apparent regard for what patients and their loved-ones thought, or allowances for surprise turn-around recoveries. When he made the decision on behalf of his own wife, his daughter reported him to the authorities. Now she is shaken by the repercussions of the very public case and wants to be out of the limelight. She accepts a job offer as private carer for the ailing mother of a handsome young businessman, but feels it best to change her name to Becca Morrow, so nobody will connect her with Dr Death.
It becomes clear that Becca is a compassionate person, creative in her approach to her job. Isaac, the sick woman's adopted son, can't help feeling drawn to her, and the feeling is mutual. But when Aurelia Hughes, his mother, passes away, and Becca's father contacts her anxious for help, the plot thickens.
The writing style is full of long, complex metaphors, such as Becca, 'pulling her napkin apart as if making fodder for a flea circus', or 'her skin felt mismatched, as if the tag on the neckline had been removed and God grabbed the wrong size from the rack' and 'her jeans recorded the length of the bus trip like rings on a tree measured years and floods and droughts' and 'she bit her lower lip as an addict might snap a rubber band on his wrist to remind him of his weakness.' These are only a few. They just keep coming. 'Her words tasted like wet cement licked from an underdone sidewalk.' Enough, I'm sure you get the point.
Some people may love them, thinking they are part of the author's style and unique voice, yet others may get irritated after a while, finding they interrupt the flow of the story. That's how I came to feel about it. When imagery pulls my attention away time after time, it becomes a bit heavy-handed.
I was torn about this book. On the one hand, there's this rambling quality caused by the excessive imagery, and on the other, Jayne/Becca is a lovely heroine of a fresh and interesting plot and her relationship with her dad is very thought-provoking. I really did want to get drawn into the story. It will be interesting to see what other reviewers think about this, as I'm sure opinions will differ.
I received a copy from NetGalley and Abingdon Press in return for an honest review.
All My Belongings available from Amazon