A while ago I read a review of another book, along the lines of "Now that I'm finished, I have no idea what it is I just read!" ... Jerry, Joanna's dad (Con's ex), was actually likeable, along with the Brooklyn neighbor Peggy. more than just friends, explaining Gert's attachment to her, though Mattison never actually goes there except for one brief reference.
In the end the plot doesn't come to any neat conclusion or resolution but leaves the characters moving on through life having learned (or not) from their interactions. Not something I'd want to read everyday but the characters were really well done and it was a bit like looking in on someone else's life -- the good, bad and banal all there on display.
I was interested enough to plow through this book quickly, but in the end, I didn't really like the characters or story enough to recommend this to anyone.
In fact, former Brooklynite Constance Con Tepper, a lawyer who handles womens rights cases, nearly instantly forgetsor shall we say, overlooks the alarming discovery she makes while alone in her mothers Park Slope apartment. The novel flip-flops between two different periods in Cons life. Con, 45, married, the mother of 16-year-old Joanna, is cat-sitting for her mother, Gert, away visiting her friend Marlene, a charismatic woman Con has admired since childhood. As Con realizes she is trapped (with the purse went keys, money, credit cards, ID, etc.), her life begins to unraveljob, marriage, a distressingly forgetful mother and missing Joanna. Mattisons novel summons the same exhilarating feeling as sitting on a stoop a sultry New York City evening, enraptured by a neighbors gripping tale of someone she knew. Its not as if Joanna were missing a vital piece of evidence inside that locked box to close her case before presenting it to her lawyer mother; she had already accrued enough for a slam dunk.
Gert has gone upstate to visit her dear friend, Marlene. Marlene is coming to visit and Jerry is coming to crash on her couch will in New York. In the 1989 sections, I was quite intrigued with the World War II-era letters from Marlene to Gert that Con found in the apartment. Con was fascinated with Marlene when she was a child and the letters shed a new light onto that secondary friendship. I gave Nothing is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn a four-star rating because there is a major discrepancy in how Con meets Gerts neighbor, Peggy, one of the novels secondary characters.
This book featured many of my favorite themes: mothers and daughters, female friendship, family secrets and a taste of 1940s New York, all folded together by a skilled fiction writer. My edition of the book featured an interview with the author that went beyond the banal, "How do you get your ideas?" questions and revealed some fascinating bits about the workings of Mattison's mind and the evolution of her career.
But the story itself is about a woman and her relationship among her family (mother, daughter, husband) and also her interactions with her friends. The later story she has her life back on track but is still driven by these various relationships and revisits that earlier time when her daughter goes through her own crisis.
Let me begin by saying that I would not reccommend this novel to a friend, UNLESS my friend specifically asked for a book about sad older ladies going about day-to-day business. I just didn't particularly enjoy this one as it left me sad and confused.
I thought maybe Id like the title more after reading the book, but alas, no.).
She's the author of 5 other novels, most recently NOTHING IS QUITE FORGOTTEN IN BROOKLYN, 4 collections of stories, and a book of poems.