I sort of feel as though I "know" Lee Woodruff. I read the memoir she wrote with her husband, journalist Bob Woodruff, In An Instant, about her husband's injury while embedded with the military in Iraq. When her second non-fiction book, Perfectly Imperfect was published, I quickly bought and read it as Lee shared her feelings and memories about various occurences in her life.
Those We Love Most is Woodruff's first foray into fiction, and I greedily read every single page.
Margaret is in her mid-sixies, already having raised her children. She enjoys her grandchildren living close by, and despite having been married for several decades to Roger, her husband, has a life set apart from his largely due to his travel with work. The marriage which looks happy on the outside has its troubles, as Roger has been carrying on an extramarital affair for several years with Julia, a woman he sees regulary when on business in Florida.
Although part of this story is Margaret's, another portion is her daughter, Maura's. Maura married her college boyfriend, Pete. The two have three children and although their marriage is mediocre at best, have a typical suburban lifestyle. All of that changes in just the blink of an eye when their oldest child, James, is hit by a car while riding his bike to school. Maura had been walking with him and their other children and glanced away for just a second to check her cell phone - something she will blame herself for and regret for the rest of her life.
Those We Love Most explores the dynamics of this family and the way that these women deal with the challenges they are confronted with. Woodruff's characters are so human that I could understand both Maura and Margaret's reactions even though I didn't always agree with them.
Book clubs and readers of women's fiction will especially enjoy Those We Love Most. Woodruff writes in her acknowledgements that it took her three years to complete this novel, which seems entirely too long to wait until she is published again.