Just Once

Severn House. Jan. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9780727888334. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9781448301645. F
OrangeReviewStarWhen her ex-husband reappears on her doorstep claiming not to remember the past 20 years, art photographer Frankie Sicari is unprepared for the emotions that resurface. Decades ago, Frankie and Charley Blackwell fell in love over photography, but the birth of their daughter and Charley's extended absences as a photojournalist created a rift between them. When tragedy strikes, Charley finds comfort in the arms of Hannah, an ambitious young woman deeply grieving the death of her twin brother from AIDS. Fast forward 25 years, and Charley suddenly doesn't recognize Hannah as his wife. He insists he and Frankie are still married and their daughter is alive, leading Hannah and Frankie to forge a tenuous bond as they try to puzzle out the mystery of Charley's amnesia.
VERDICT Handeland (The Farmer's Wife) has created an emotionally complex story about grief that alternates between the present day and decades-long flashbacks. Each character is portrayed as sympathetic, making for a much more satisfying read than the typical cookie-cutter love triangle. Give this one to fans of JoJo Moyes, along with a box of tissues.

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