Doctor Ed Malinowsk is torn between his passionate, independent wife, Laura, and Penelope, the beautiful, young epileptic who should never have been placed in his institution in the first place. As their relationship grows more complicated, and Laura stubbornly starts working at his hospital, Ed must weigh his professional responsibilities against his personal ones, and find a way to save both his job and his family.
...marital emotion boils within a cool experimental framework ... the theme is carefully developed, pulling the reader toward the incomprehensible, the unintelligible, the question of what’s left in language once sense departs ... Reeves wants to discover her characters’ stony places. She wants to explore what it feels like when the mind breaks, when language becomes a door swinging closed on meaning, and yet she is never so supple or interesting a writer as when she is tracing a character’s fugitive shreds of consciousness ...
Reeves...plays out this well-worn triangle in chapters that shift between Laura’s first-person narration and a third-person narration that's close to Ed's perspective, arriving at a twist that finally moves the novel beyond cliché to become a sensitive examination of love, responsibility, and compassion ... A predictable plot reveals emotional complexities.
Reeves...forms an intense love triangle between a doctor, his wife, and one of his patients across the 1970s and ’80s in her introspective latest ...Readers who enjoy complex depictions of the lingering commitments of relationships will be swept away by Reeves’s crisp, powerful novel.