Imagine, waking up fully clothed in a cold body of water thousands of miles from home, not knowing where you are.
That’s how Jennie Shortridge opens her emotionally brilliant Love Water Memory.
Jennie’s character Lucie Walker has been missing for weeks, while her fiancé is papering the Seattle area with posters, and TV crews are covering the unlikely disappearance of the attractive head hunter.
No one knows what to make of Lucie’s sudden, and strange, reemergence.
It’s Lucie, and yet it’s not.
The formerly closed-off woman, who is approaching forty and her wedding day, seems sweet and kind. And, this new Lucie is stunned to learn that her neighbors consider her snobby and aloof.
The old Lucie was impeccably and expensively dressed, even covering her freckles, lest they intimate imperfection. The new Lucie purges the medicine chests of concealer.
Lucie’s fiancé, Grady, loves the woman who went missing – and the new woman. His inability to reconcile that these are the same women throws their relationship into further turmoil. Not to mention that final fight they had – that he remembers, and she does not.
Lucie’s diagnosis is a dissociative fugue.
And the old Lucie is as much a mystery to the new Lucie, as to everyone else. Her bone-chilling discovery of the violence that led to her amnesia is completely believable. Jennie has done a gorgeous job rendering the fracturing of the human mind under stress, and how it repairs itself in the most unexpected of ways.
Long ago, Jennie and I ordained ourselves as members of the “Crazy Mother’s Club.” There isn’t one of course, at least not to our knowledge, but one day when I was interviewing her on one of her earlier books, we discovered that we had that one thing in common, at least that one thing. The blessing is that having a crazy mother tends to make one a writer, curious about the world, and constantly puzzling to make sense as to why all the other kids only have to deal with critical comments, while we had to hide the pills and the sharp knives from our mothers.
Jennie Shortridge, you’ve come many miles since Riding With the Queen, and you should be proud. Lucie Walker – and Love Water Memory – is a reflective and charming masterpiece.