Other than being irritated by the author's unique prose style, I found this novel to be a mostly entertaining exploration of Transatlantic family relationships when a crack in the past finally allows long-held secrets to slowly seep out. Dennis Phillips and his glamorous new wife, Amanda, want to buy a luxury house in Chessex. As the story begins, they've been trying to convince Daisy, Dennis's seventy-seven-year-old mother, to sell the family home in Mersyside.
Dennis's offer only hints at the deep turmoil that
swirling inside Daisy's psyche. While Daisyís mind circles in "a closed-circuit loop" over Dennisís recent proposal (simultaneously ignoring it, denying it, then being annoyed), the only comfort inhabiting her daily life is reliving the feelings of being in a family of four. Lately Daisy has been recalling the handsome face of Michael Baker, an American soldier
with whom she fell in love in 1945.
Easy, open and honest, Michaelís pull was undoubtedly strong - so strong, in fact, that at the end of the war, he had promised to write, wanting nothing more than for Daisy to be his wife. For a time Michaelís letters were consistent and regular, but then
- nothing. Remembering his strength and promises, Daisy still keeps his beloved watch in her jewelry box by her bedside, notably inscribed by the legendary pianist Arthur Rubinstein. As the emotional walls close in and dreams
funnel down drains, the possibilities of a life not yet lived finally begin to encompass Daisy. She grasps that the watch has waited a long time to be discovered.
Tearing through time and searching her head for clues, Daisy decides that the watch does indeed belong with Michael and his family. Buoyed along by this new revelation, she decides to travel to New York to find Michael and meet her cousin Ann, staying with her only long enough to take care of this unfinished business. After a shaky start, Daisy's adopted American family begin to treat her like English royalty
while Ann's harried daughter, Elizabeth, copes with her own dramas and insecurities,
as well as the financial pressures of trying to make ends meet.
Events get sidetracked by a silly subplot involving Elizabethís husband, Richard, while Ann - for reasons that become clear later in the story - is a less that perfect host to her newly discovered cousin. Ironically, it's left to Michael
- Elizabethís youngest son, who at first displays all the arrogance of youth - to shoulder the burden of Daisy's needs, tempering his initial sullenness into something so much friendlier. As the investigation into the whereabouts of Michael Baker proceeds, Daisy
is if nothing else able to regale Michael with the family folklore.
Daisy soon grows to love the feeling of being back amid the joys of family: the daily beat of life, the promise of a new day, the unfailing energy of Elizabeth's accomplished, tender-hearted children. While a disparate assortment of personalities finally come together in the Big Apple, a long, lazy, humid summer afternoon high atop Mount Washington is as tragic as it is redemptive. At the center is Daisy, marching along as to her own drum beat, her cheerful, curious eyes on everything, taking it all in, in this lovely and deeply compassionate novel.