Annie Black’s world has turned upside down.
Years ago, she was a young woman living in Europe, enjoying her freedom, but also taking risks. Two men–her boss, Malcolm Church, and another man who was a photographer friend, Patrick Ardghal–were part of that world, and sometimes, even in her new and near perfect world, Annie has thoughts about one of them. But before, when she was still young, Jonathan Gunnhaugsson, an American doctor she met in Ireland, became the love that kept her warm and safe. And dispelled most of her thoughts about the past. Together they raised three children: Robbie, now 21; Clara, 9; and Polly, 6.
In the present, before life unravels, there is a secret and an indiscretion that comes out after a mysterious photo arrives in the mail. Almost as if a chain of events have been unleashed, there is a reveal, then a trip to London, and then a series of tragic happenings: Annie’s shop is mysteriously flooded, and then Robbie, who has been living on his own, but is home for a visit, has a horrible accident. And the young woman named Emme, who worked in Annie’s shop, was the driver. What will happen to Robbie, and will the mess that now defines Annie’s life sort itself out? Will her husband Jonathan forgive her for how the secret has impacted all of their lives? What did Annie really know, and what was buried in her subconscious?
A Small Indiscretion: A Novel is narrated in Annie’s first person voice, but sweeps across time, from the past to the present, and she describes events in an open letter format to Robbie. As the events unfold in a non-linear fashion, it seems confusing, but then, at the end, and as one more piece of the puzzle is presented, we begin to see that the circling is like a logical progression, in a way, and that what we may have guessed earlier is now brought into sharper focus and in a surprising new way.
And by that time, I loved this story so much and what it tells us about love, mistakes, and forgiveness. By the end, I felt I knew and cared about each of these characters, especially Annie and Jonathan. 5.0 stars.