Leslie, Billy, Sam, and Rafe—their lives are inexplicably altered.
Leslie is comfortably married to Pierce, but her loving connection to her brother Gus is a truly nurturing relationship. Childless, she has become almost like a mother to Gus, since she is fifteen years older.
Billy, a playwright, was Gus’s live-in lover on that fateful day when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. What nobody knows is that she had already decided to leave Gus, so when he dies as a passenger in one of the planes, she feels like a fraud as she grieves for him.
Sam, an architect, who bought property when Leslie was selling real estate many years before, is now divorced; his first wife had died years before and his children, somewhat distant from him, are grown. Sam has harbored feelings for Leslie for many years.
Rafe, whose wife suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, is an actor. He is one of the stars in Billy’s newest play, called “The Lake Shore Limited”—a play about a terrorist act on a train that leaves people waiting for news of their loved ones, just as many did after 9/11.
These four all connect again as they come together to see Billy’s play, and then their lives intersect continually for weeks and months afterwards.
As the story unfolds, we get to view the interior lives of these characters, as sections are devoted to each one in turn. We see what motivates them, what they’re worried about, and what they fear. Their worlds are truly explored and we come to know and understand them. Even empathize with them, despite some of their choices.
In the end, I sincerely wanted to know what would happen next with each of them, as we are left at a point in all of their lives where much is unresolved.
There’s a moment in the story where Billy, the playwright, is reflecting on the success of her play, now that it’s over, and feeling some satisfaction that, in her creation of a terrorist act on a train, she has used similar events (from 9/11 and what happened to Gus), but that, in a way, she has memorialized him as she would not have been able to do otherwise. She sees this as her homage to him, her way of “not forgetting” Gus.
Sue Miller has done it again, with her characters, her plot, the multi-layered story that exposes the dark and light side of the human condition…and she has totally captured the attention of this reader. The Lake Shore Limited definitely earned five stars.