MY REAL CHILDREN
It would be hard enough just to write the story of the scope of a person’s life as movingly and vividly as Walton does here ... so when she does so twice over, while subtly building two alternate histories of the world since the 1950s, it’s shockingly impressive. Each of Patricia’s lives has enough to say about family, history, politics, aging and the human condition, and to so poignantly mix the joy and pain of life and the bitter with the sweet is a true accomplishment. Set in perfect counterpoint to each other, the effect of the twinned stories — and the book as a whole — is stunning.
It’s 2015, and Patricia Cowan has led a long, eventful life, even if her memory fails her more often than not now. But sometimes that life included an early marriage and four children, sometimes it instead involved summers in Florence and three children. Sometimes Kennedy resigned after nuclear bombs dropped on Kiev and Miami, sometimes he was assassinated with a bomb. Each life had its share of triumph and devastation; how could anyone choose which one was more real? (TOR, May, 320 pp., $25.99)