July 7, 2013
Five Days by Douglas Kennedy
Finished on 6/1/13
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
When Laura leaves her small Maine town to attend a radiography conference in Boston, she is relieved to have a few days away from the heartbreaking realities she shares with cancer patients every day. A weekend’s respite from her failing marriage and her two children who are leaving the nest finds her unexpectedly in the company of a man she has only just met. At first, Richard seems gray and uninspired, but after a second chance encounter, Laura begins to imagine a life beyond the one she has rooted herself to—and to ask herself if the ultimate sign of maturity is realizing that one always has a choice between passion and loneliness, happiness or despair. Douglas Kennedy’s powerful new novel poignantly examines the death of hope, the limitless possibilities of love, and how the entire trajectory of a life can change through one brief encounter.
I happened upon the finished copy of Five Days one day at work (sent by the publisher for review) and after glancing at the back cover blurbs by Will Schwalbe (author of The End of Your Life Book Club), Lorrie Moore (author of A Gate at the Stairs) and Colum McCann (author of Let the Great World Spin), I decided to give it a try. Not only had I not read anything by Douglas Kennedy, I’d never even heard of him.
As Schwalbe states in his blurb, Five Days is “a brilliant mediation on regret, fidelity, family, and second chances.” With the exception of “brilliant,” I concur. Kennedy’s evocative prose had me reaching for my sticky notes and I’m sure I commented (on more than one occasion) to my husband that I was quite impressed with the author's writing, as well as his ability to write from a woman’s perspective. Yes, this is a love story, but it is by no means a fluffy bodice-ripper. Serious and contemplative, Kennedy’s novel is more reminiscent of John Irving or Richard Russo than of, say, Nicholas Sparks or Richard Paul Evans.
Final Thoughts: Five Days is a compulsive read, albeit somewhat predictable, but nonetheless entertaining. I’m always happy when I discover a new writer with a large backlist. I look forward to discovering more winners by Kennedy. Have you read anything by this author? What would you recommend?