By: Yona Zeldis McDonough
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: February 2016
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: March 15, 2016
Susannah Gilmore delivers a good read that includes loss, the past and the healing power of family in her latest novel, The House on Primrose Pond.
Susannah Gilmore has the perfect life. She has a husband who adores her and two children who top the chart of ‘near perfect.’ Susannah is an historical novelist and what better place to live than in the burbs to one of the mecca publishing hubs: New York. Her husband Charlie is her one and only. He commutes into Manhattan four days a week to the School of Visual Arts. He teaches illustration and has the luxury of working from home on Friday’s. When Charlie appears in the doorway of Susannah’s office and presents his best puppy dog-eyed plea, Susannah experiences a jolt of guilt. It’s January and unseasonably warm; the perfect day for the two of them to venture out on a bike ride. Sadly, Susannah is on a tight deadline and cannot break away from her current project. Much to his chagrin Charlie ventures out alone. Charlie is absentminded. Susannah often reminded him of the details. If only Susannah had reminded him about his bike helmet, perhaps the end of the day would have been even more spectacular than its beginning...
Consumed with her writing, she didn’t realize the afternoon had slipped away. When she realized Jack and Cally (their children) were home from school, she shut her laptop down for the day and began to think about dinner. It wasn’t unusual for Charlie to be gone for hours on one of his bicycling adventures or any journey for that matter. Somehow, this time felt different. As Cally and Jack rallied to set the table for dinner, the doorbell rings. Susannah makes her way to the front door and is surprised to see the two uniformed officers on its other side. She manages to catch a random word: accident. When the officer relays the word Queens, there is a flicker of hope. There is no way the biking accident involved Charlie. He wouldn’t ride as far as Queens. When Susannah checks back in, the female officer suggests: ‘...I think maybe you should sit down...’ Beyond her suggestion, Susannah’s world goes dark. The Gilmore’s were about to enter their new life—a life without their beloved husband and dad, Charlie Gilmore.
Yona Zeldis McDonough delivers a heart-felt story of the tragedy of loss and the importance of picking up and starting anew in the aftermath of such loss. She takes the reader on a journey that wills the Gilmore family to maintain hope even if it means uprooting their familiar lives to do so. There is also another dynamic of pointing main character, Susannah Gilmore, in the direction of returning to her past which is something she would have never done had her husband not died. Gilmore adds a bit more complexity to spice up the plot when she creates an element of Susannah’s mother’s life that forces her to question whether she ever knew her real mom...or not. With ample twists and side roads to navigate in this story, the beauty in Ms. McDonough’s style is she has an innate ability to bring all roads back together in the end in effortless and flowing cadence. I’ve not had the pleasure of reading any of Ms. Gilmore’s previous books and now that I’ve read The House on Primrose Pond, I look forward to doing so.
Quill says: The House on Primrose Pond is an enjoyable read that provokes a thought of how we sometimes need to travel back in time in order to move ahead to the future.