Patricia Cowan is an old woman living in a nursing home, a bit confused, partly from dementia, and partly from the fact that she remembers two very different, and mutually exclusive, lives. Do her friends call her Trisha, or Pat? Did she have four children with Mark, or raise three children with Bee?
Has she lived a life with personal struggle, disappointment, and tragedy, but in a world of growing peace, social progress, and a thriving international space program? Or a life where she has deep love, personal satisfaction, and professional success, but in a world increasingly dark and threatened, less social progress, and several nuclear exchanges?
As Patricia sorts through her doubled memories, we see both versions of her life. We get to know both her families, the happy one living on the edge of legal toleration, and the unhappy one, living in the world where in time her other, happier family could have had legal and social recognition. The world where she pursues professional success and personal happiness, trying to avoid the fear and stress of a world where nuclear exchanges happen from time to time, and the world where she throws herself into political and social movements as compensation for her private unhappiness.
Both Patricias and their families are beautifully depicted and developed. We get two wonderfully real and complex families coping with real problems in challenging rules. When Patricia arrives at the terrifying need to decide between these two lives, or to find some way to merge them and embrace one life that preserves all her loves and children, we're there with her.
I bought this book.