How you respond to life’s challenges can define your story. Do you let the hard times dominate your outlook, or do you look at these events as a chance to start fresh? Author Larry Watson considers these questions in his new novel, The Lives of Edie Pritchard. In Edie’s case, more often than not she opts for a new beginning, turning her back on the people she loves. It’s a complicated, challenging choice. Most people resign themselves to their lot in life, but not Edie, which makes her story fascinating but also profoundly sad.
When we first meet Edie in 1967 Montana, she is the wife of Dean Linderman. Her biggest problem is keeping the advances of Dean’s fraternal twin, Roy, at bay, despite her own obvious attraction to the other brother. After Roy is assaulted by a couple of angry men from another town, things take a drastic turn. Dean and Roy want vengeance, prompting Edie to insist that she and Dean move away. When Dean refuses, Edie leaves without him.
The novel picks up 20 years later, with Edie in a new town and new life. She has married Gary Dunn and has a teenage daughter. After learning that Dean has cancer and only a few months to live, Edie decides to visit him despite Gary’s warnings. Mad with jealousy, Gary follows her and confronts her, but again, Edie makes a choice to run away from the man controlling her life and start over.
Flash-forward another 20 years to 2007, when Edie’s granddaughter is caught up in her own love triangle with two brothers. “We know how that goes,” Edie’s friend muses. “History repeats itself down through the generations.”
Watson’s writing style is simple but powerfully effective. It’s easy to sympathize with Edie and understand the difficult choices she makes. Everyone has a moment when they wish they could just chuck everything and start over. Watson leaves enough room for readers to ponder whether they should.