Summary and book reviews of A Trick of Light by Karen Blomain

A Trick of Light

By Karen Blomain

A Trick of Light
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  • Paperback: Mar 2001,
    358 pages.

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Book Summary

When Hattie Darling's husband Ben dies on his first night home from an extended business trip, she is devastated. But when she finds among his belongings evidence that there had been another woman in his life, Hattie is unable to mourn Ben as she thinks she should. In an attempt to make peace with her discovery, and against the advice of her friends, Hattie decides to find the other woman and confront her.

But the confrontation leads to surprise and eventual understanding. At the heart of this unusual book is the unexpected intertwining of the lives of the two women. Gradually, Hattie realizes that she has superimposed the deceit of Ben's life onto her own.

When Hattie awoke the first time, it was still early, around midnight. The house was quiet. Although she had been asleep less than an hour, she felt jittery and restless. She walked into the bathroom and drank a glass of water and started back to the bed. Abruptly, she turned and went down the stairs. Instead of switching on the hall light, she steadied and guided herself down each step by pressing her fingertips against the wall as she had done a thousand times before. Fear was the only thing different in Hattie's life.

The fear, the casket and the knowledge that Ben had been about to tell her something important. At first she was so afraid that she couldn't focus her eyes, but she approached the casket and forced herself to look at him. Ben lay there with his hands folded on his stomach; his left hand on top. He had never worn a wedding ring, and now Hattie wished he had. She thought back over the events of the past two days from her anxious anticipation of Ben&...

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A gentle tale of two women who, unbeknown to each other, shared the same husband. The story opens as Hattie's husband returns from a business trip and dies just as he is trying to tell her something. Shortly after, Hattie discovers evidence of another woman and goes in search of her. She finds her and, unexpectedly, becomes deeply involved in the other woman's life whilst never revealing her own true identity. Whilst the storyline of one man, two wives has been told many times, (for example Anita Shreve's relatively recent, The Pilot's Wife) this tale brings a new angle to the telling. I recommend this to readers who enjoy novels that explore family relationships - with a bit of romance thrown in for good measure. I understand that the book is currently being made into a movie by Barbra Streisand's film company - it should make a great 'chick flick'.  

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Author Blurb Bookends
Piotr translated, Every half-truth is a complete lie. This statement well underscores the dilemma of Hattie Darling, the heroine of Karen Blomain's first novel. For Hattie is forced through a series of bizarre circumstances to sink deeper into a falsification of her seemingly happy and well-adjusted life. The plot complication is old as all triangular relationships between men and women. Hattie's travelling salesman husband Ben dies, and Hattie, living in a small Pennsylvania town, travels Northeast to discover that he has secretly married another woman, Anya, in Hartford, Connecticut, and sire a daughter by her as well.. [Hattie's ] avoidance of the truth begins. She rents a room in Anya's small row house and unexpectedly, over a period of months, bonds with both Anya and her eight-year-old daughter Kasia. The three of them achieve contentment and love, despite a seemingly improbable situation - and therein lies one of the crucial values of this novel. The book is a fascinating psychological tale of how two women in such circumstances could actually become friends, the one never revealing her true background, the other never asking or needing to know the details of Hattie's life before Ben's death.

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