If you've ever considered your past and thought, "I was a different person back then," you will immediately and deeply appreciate the premise of this extraordinary novel, which examines the phenomenon of redefining/evolving identity as a survival response to trauma.
The novel is three distinct narratives, connected by transitional episodes, and each narrative is a reinvention of self. This would be hard to pull off under any circumstances, and the depth and aplomb with which Nesbitt achieves this are almost impossible to believe. This is literary fiction of the highest caliber, and as such, it requires an investment from the reader, which is perhaps asking a lot in our age of distraction. However, the dividends paid for your investment are like nothing you've ever seen before, and you will be enriched beyond your wildest dreams.
Among the book's many astonishments is the wholly distinct voice and characterization of each "narrator," and equally amazing is the fact that the book's defining style characteristic--a poetic attention to and expression of detail--changes expression in response to each narrative. In the first part of the book, narrated by June, the intensity of detail is incredibly precise and almost claustrophobic, and it is also fragmented, like a mosaic that hasn't been fully assembled, but the pieces are gradually thrown down close enough to their final resting place that when you step back the picture is, if not yet clear, at least recognizable. This transitions to Reni, in whose narrative the detail is derived from dissection; the combination of grit and almost cold distance put me in mind of Patricia Highsmith. Once Reni's life has been sliced paper-thin and examined under a microscope, we shift to Sandy, whose expression of detail is lush and sensual, drops of wine in a cup that finally overflows, spilling her out to be collected and restored to herself in a finale that is as eviscerating as it is brilliant.
A note: The text could have used one more fine-grit-sandpaper polish by a proofreader, but DO NOT allow that to distract you. This book is the real thing, and these tiny snags in the tapestry of this novel are unimportant.
(reviewed 59 days after purchase)