THE DEMISE OF DREAMS — A REVIEW

Once upon a time a young and bright law school student named Sylvie Serfer met handsome and ambitious law student Richard Woodruff. Back then she had opinions and goals of her own. He wanted to be President.

Now decades later, Sylvie has remade herself into the ideal politician’s wife. Her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband: the senator.

All of their hopes and dreams come crashing down one day when Richard is spotlighted on the news about his extramarital affair with a young woman, his former assistant, for whom he’d obtained a prestigious job at an illustrious law firm.

Suddenly Sylvie and her two daughters, Diana and Lizzie, are drawn into the eye of the hurricane with the philandering husband.

What they each do next makes the story. We follow Sylvie’s journey as she tries to figure out what she wants and what will happen next. Her travels take her to a small beach town in Connecticut, to an old family house. There she tries to find herself again–that person she was before she became the woman who took care of Richard Woodruff’s needs and ignored her own.

In Philadelphia, daughter Diana is married with a six-year-old child. She’s a doctor and on the surface appears to have it all. But underneath, she is increasingly unhappy with her life, her marriage, and the empty places inside. Which makes her ripe for an illicit affair.

Then there’s Lizzie, who considers herself the family screw-up. A recovering addict, she struggles daily to stay clean and sober and to find something worthwhile of her own to do with her life.

During the summer following the disgrace, Lizzie moves in with Diana, to help with her nephew Milo and to figure out what she wants to do. She always carries a camera around her neck–some say her penchant for snapping photos is her way of distancing herself from life.

Each of these characters is revealed in alternating chapters that dig a little bit more with each page, until we come to feel as though we know them. Their thoughts, their feelings, and their motivations.

When Sylvie invites her daughters to join her in Connecticut, the timing couldn’t be better. Diana and Lizzie have each reached turning points in their lives and need a respite of their own. As they all come together, they gradually begin to find refuge in one another.

I loved Fly Away Home: A Novel, a story of scandal, pain, and the after-effects of tragic events…until the very end, I couldn’t be sure what each of the women would decide to do. Each had choices to make and changes to create. Like real life individuals, nothing was simple or predictable, but implicit in the ending moments was the promise or hint that maybe things could work out in some way for each of them; that no matter what they decided, they would all be okay.

Five stars.

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