I read The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier almost as soon as it came out, after reading a book review in the Washington Post.
Summer vacation on Great Rock Island was supposed to be a restorative time for Kate, who’d lost her close friend Elizabeth in a sudden accident. But when she inherits a trunk of Elizabeth’s journals, they reveal a woman far different than the cheerful wife and mother Kate thought she knew.
Set in the anxious summer after the September 11th attacks, this story of two women—their friendship, their marriages, private ambitions and fears—considers the aspects of ourselves we show and those we conceal, and the repercussions of our choices.
I think this is a great premise for a book–who wouldn’t enjoy the guilty pleasure of reading someone else’s diary?
The book strikes a good balance between following Kate’s present and learning about Elizabeth’s past. Just like Kate rushed through her daily chores so she could get back to Elizabeth’s journals, I found myself looking forward to the end of my day, when I could read another chapter about both of them. The storyline touches on many personal and interpersonal issues, but it isn’t as heavy as the Amazon summary makes it sound.
If there is one theme I took away from this book, it is that we never really know someone else, just like we never fully expose ourselves to others. If we think someone else is judging us for our shortcomings, we probably are projecting our own issues on them, because they probably are too busy worrying about their own perceived faults to be judging us.
Do you keep a diary?