Sunday, January 16, 2011
Book Review - Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield
A woman copes with tragedy and the banalities of New York life in Listfield's deeply personal sixth novel. Based on the real-life disappearance of Listfield's husband, the novel revolves around Sarah Larkin, an art lover who actually enjoys her job as an editor at a glossy women's mag. Her alcoholic sculptor husband, Todd, though, is less than happy, and flees the disintegrating marriage, ostensibly to visit an old school friend in Florida. Sarah and their six-year-old daughter, Eliza, await his return, but a phone call from a Florida policeman signals trouble: Todd has been staying with a woman and has been reported as missing. Sarah's life then spreads out into several directions. Most immediate is the investigation into Todd's disappearance (suicide is one theory), with a skeptical cop, a kindly private eye and Todd's ex as its cross-purposed cast. Sarah also navigates infighting among the ambitious and sometimes reptilian magazine staff (who mostly feel like something out of a less ambitious novel) and meets a caring and handsome new love interest.
Waiting to Surface pulls you in pretty quickly to the life of Sarah Larkin. She's very relatable being a working mom of a little girl with a marriage on the rocks. You learn of Sarah's marriage mostly through her recall of memories after her husband's disappearance. Their meeting, the romance, the "honeymoon" phase, and the gradual decline - all very typical. I particularly enjoyed her position as editor for a fashion magazine in Manhattan - that immediately scored points with me. There's also that bit of mystery involved - did the husband disappear willingly or did he drown - willingly? And the fact that you never really know for sure by the end of the book makes it even better. There's an even play between the disappearance of Sarah's husband and her fashion magazine job, which never gets confusing or disjointed. Add to all this the fact that it's based on a true story really makes me want to speak with the author, Emily Listfield. I'd love to have a glass of wine with this woman.