by Kristin Hannah

May 2004
ISBN: 0-345-47117-2
Reviewer Graphic Button Ballantine Books
Trade Paperback

Annie Colwater has spent the last twenty years being a perfect wife and mother. On the day that her daughter leaves for a three month trip to London, her husband Blake informs her that he no longer wants to be married, heís in love with another woman and has been sleeping with her for a year. Annie is devastated and wants nothing more than for her life to go back to the way it was. When she realizes that her husband is not going to change his mind she retreats to her home town of Mystic, Oregon to visit with her father. Her mother died when she was a young girl and though her father loves her, heís never known how to give her the emotional support that she needs. He tells her that Blake will realize what a mistake he has made and will want her back.

After hearing that a childhood friend has died, Annie decides to visit the widow Ė Nick, her first love Ė and his daughter. When she meets six year old Izzy she immediately falls in love with her. Izzy hasnít spoken since her mother died and she feels that bit by bit she is disappearing. Annie volunteers to baby-sit for Nick while he works and she suddenly finds a reason for living again. While she gives Izzy the motherís love that she so desperately craves she also helps Nick realize that he has a drinking problem and makes him see that his daughter needs him and that he needs to change. As the three of them heal together they become closer, yet they know that Annie will be leaving in a few months.

Before Annie is ready to deal with her former life, her husband arrives in Mystic and tells her that he made a terrible mistake and that he loves her and wants her to come back home. Now Annie has to decide if she wants to salvage her marriage or if she wants to stay with the two people who have recently taught her how to live again.

This may be the first book Iíve ever read by this author, but it certainly wonít be the last. A combination of womenís fiction and romance, this story pulled at my heart and I didnít want to put it down. I cried and I laughed and I felt joy and sorrow as the characters dealt with tragedy and disappointment and fought to do the right thing.

Reviewed in August 2004 by Jackie.

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