Dear Libby, It occurs to me that you and your two children have been living with your mother for–Dear Lord!–two whole years, and I’m writing to see if you’d like to be rescued.
The letter comes out of the blue, and just in time for Libby Moran, who–after the sudden death of her husband, Danny–went to stay with her hypercritical mother. Now her crazy Aunt Jean has offered Libby an escape: a job and a place to live on her farm in the Texas Hill Country. Before she can talk herself out of it, Libby is packing the minivan, grabbing the kids, and hitting the road.
Life on Aunt Jean’s goat farm is both more wonderful and more mysterious than Libby could have imagined. Beyond the animals and the strenuous work, there is quiet–deep, country quiet. But there is also a shaggy, gruff (though purportedly handsome, under all that hair) farm manager with a tragic home life, a formerly famous feed-store clerk who claims she can contact Danny “on the other side,” and the eccentric aunt Libby never really knew but who turns out to be exactly what she’s been looking for. And despite everything she’s lost, Libby soon realizes how much more she’s found. She hasn’t just traded one kind of crazy for another: She may actually have found the place to bring her little family–and herself–back to life.
And so begins the wonderful tale of how losing one kind of life can lead to finding something unexpectedly wonderful. Narrated in Libby’s first person voice, the reader is gifted with wonderful word pictures of the country setting and the simple folks who take nothing for granted. Who knew that the quiet country life would hold such sweetness, mixed in with all the hard work? And even though Aunt Jean’s house doesn’t even have a TV, and the smallness of the community takes some adjusting, Libby is finally carving out some wonderful connections here.
But what is the root of the antagonism between Aunt Jean and Libby’s mother Marsha? What daunting secret can explain a decades-long rift that has carved a groove into Aunt Jean’s normally-serene persona? And what about O’Connor, that shaggy man who seems attracted to Libby, but does nothing about it?
The Lost Husband: A Novel reminds us that losing people and one kind of life doesn’t mean that you can’t find something else. And that accepting that loss isn’t a betrayal, but, in a way, a tribute to the lost one.
I like this excerpt (in Libby’s voice):
“And then I realized something: I would always miss Danny. No matter how full my life became, there would always be a hole where his living presence had been. But the truth was, I was already better. And not despite that hole–but because of it. His loss was now a part of the story of my life….”
I enjoyed this story, despite it’s predictability at times, and maybe because of it, too. Who doesn’t love a feel-good ending to a beautifully wrought story? Four stars.