For my full review, please visit Casual Debris.
Moore's second novel, currently bookended by Anagrams and A Gate at the Stairs, is a short work that reads like a memoir, a narrator's personal guide through a specific time in her life. The narrator is on vacation in Paris in the midst of a seemingly failed marriage, and interspersed with brief conversations with and thoughts of her husband, hearkens back to a summer in the 1970s during which she was obsessed with popular best friend Sils.
The work focuses on the relationship, the narrator's insecurities and very much on the decade. Though it is well written (very well written), it is lacking. The plot is incidental and awakens late in the work, which generates an uneven read. (Ironically, this is one of the threads running through Moore's famous short story "How to Become a Writer.") The ending is rushed and acts as an epilogue which makes me wonder if it is even necessary. I would have liked to have been left in the uncertainty of the past as mirrored by the uncertainty of the present, as the two narratives should coincide. But it's not my work.
While I did not care much for the work as a novel, it is a fast read and worthy of a read for Ms. Moore's writing skills are impressive. The characters are solid and real, and the small town universe they live in is constructed with great care.