It has been a great thrill to follow the career of novelist Patti Callahan Henry for years and years. She has published one book after another and all of them have been successes. Henry strikes a chord with her readers because she bares her heart and her soul in her works. Still there was always an indication that Henry was capable of creating something bigger, better and more compelling. There had to be a story inside her that would reveal more of her talent to the world. Her latest novel, The Stories We Tell, does just that.
In this book Henry tells the story of Eve Morrison, a preacher's kid who grew up to marry a true Prince Charming. Cooper Morrison was the answer to every girl's dream. He was handsome, intelligent, and his family was rich. He was the best Savannah, Georgia, had to offer and he wanted Eve. No wonder she said yes.
Now they have been married for a couple of decades. They have a daughter, Gwen, who is giving them fits with her temperament but overall things are good. Cooper runs an exclusive magazine and Eve has her own printing company. Eve's sister has returned to Savannah and is staying in their guest cottage and that is a little awkward. It gets even more so when she and Cooper are involved in a car wreck, which Cooper says Willa caused by being drunk.
Willa has no memory of the accident because of a brain injury so Eve is forced to take her husband's word for what happened. She would have done this anyway, but certain facts about the crash keep causing her problems. She is prone to convince herself of the things she wants to believe, and those are not always what the facts indicate.
The complexities of the relationships in this book are the heart of it. Foremost is the relationship between Eve and her husband, followed by her relationships with her daughter and her sister. And finally there is her relationship with Max, her friend and co-worker. Is Eve telling herself another fabricated story about her feelings for him?
All of these relationships are handled with deftness and clarity by Henry. She goes inside the characters' heads and paints word pictures that truly bring them to life. These are not stick figures who are seen and heard but not understood; these are full fleshed characters who draw our attention and demand to be acknowledged.
There has always been a beauty to Henry's writing but now she adds a layer of real maturity to her story. It is one readers can absorb and enjoy with complete freedom. Henry has this story in the palm of her hand and she places it before us with care and consideration. The Stories We Tell is the book we have been waiting for her to write.
THE STORIES WE TELL is published by St Martin's Press. It contains 272 pages and sells for $25.99.
Jackie K Cooper