STARRED REVIEW
October 02, 2018

News of Our Loved Ones

By Abigail DeWitt

War “is all failed plans and improvising,” muses a character in Abigail DeWitt’s third novel, News of Our Loved Ones. Though liberating, D-Day brings the worst horror upon the Delasalle family, as a bomb destroys the family’s home in Caen and splinters the survivors’ lives. For 18-year-old Geneviève Delasalle, this is a seminal moment to which she returns throughout her life, and years later, it fuels the stories that enthrall her boisterous American children, especially her daughter Polly. For Geneviève’s extended family in France, it is a constant presence, even as decades pass.

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War “is all failed plans and improvising,” muses a character in Abigail DeWitt’s third novel, News of Our Loved Ones. Though liberating, D-Day brings the worst horror upon the Delasalle family, as a bomb destroys the family’s home in Caen and splinters the survivors’ lives. For 18-year-old Geneviève Delasalle, this is a seminal moment to which she returns throughout her life, and years later, it fuels the stories that enthrall her boisterous American children, especially her daughter Polly. For Geneviève’s extended family in France, it is a constant presence, even as decades pass.

Set primarily during events surrounding World War II, News of Our Loved Ones functions less as a cohesive, plot-driven narrative and more like a collection of short stories, a string of vignettes or character studies. The chapters, some of which were published previously on their own, feel a bit truncated, and often a strong narrative thread is obscured by this abruptness. Still, DeWitt is ambitious with her latest novel, told from several perspectives through time, ranging across France to America and back again. The lives of her characters intertwine in a widening maze of infidelity, loss and secrecy, as the war links generations together as much as it tears those bonds apart.

While the shifts in time and point of view could have been more deftly handled, DeWitt’s strengths lie in keen emotional observation and the portrayal of her characters’ inner turmoil. DeWitt poetically illuminates her characters’ lives, weaving in and out like a knitting needle through wool.

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News of Our Loved Ones

News of Our Loved Ones

By Abigail DeWitt
Harper
ISBN 9780062834720

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