In comments on this blog, the author Sally Koslow herself suggested I pick up the book because it showcases a strong mother-daughter bond even after the mother is no longer among the living. I knew this might be a tough read for me but I decided to just dive in.
Koslow’s novel starts with the mysterious death of the main character Molly Divine Marx. Molly narrates the story from the afterlife, better known in the book as The Duration, where she has the ability to check in on her loved ones, including her husband, her sister, her best friend, her not-so-nice mother-in-law, her husband’s too eager female patients, her own boyfriend and, most importantly, her beloved four-year-old daughter Annabel. In addition, Molly can follow the investigation into her death, which occurred while she was biking in New York City. Was it an accident? A suicide? Murder?
I got off to a rocky start with the book. I’m not one for descriptions of the afterlife. I’ve heard that Peter Jackson’s attempt to portray heaven in The Lovely Bones movie was one of the film’s biggest faults, and, even though I didn’t see it, I can believe it. Everyone has their own version of what comes after death and they don’t always like other people’s versions thrust upon them. Personally, I don’t know what I think comes next, but it irritates me to be told. However, the entire premise of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx was based on the idea of the Duration so I let it go.
Because of this premise, Molly can tell her own story and her voice is one of the highlights of the book. She has a sense of humor and keen observations which add both poignancy and the necessary lighthearted moments as well. The way the book unfolds, we get a look at all of the events leading up to Molly’s death, from her marriage up through the incident, and then on to the aftermath. This works to make the story more than just about a suspicious death but about a whole person…
…Which I must say is a good thing since the conclusion to this suspicious death is not as satisfying as I would have liked based on the build up. However, the relationships, the focus on Annabel and all the side stories make it an enjoyable read nonetheless. The mystery may be the main focus of the plot, but the characters are what make up the heart of the book.