In 1980, under a cloud of failure, Nori McFarlane leaves her interdisciplinary studies at Yale to care for her terminally ill Aunt Louise, a retired medical doctor. Nori is aware that Louise played a significant role in her childhood and in the lives of Nori’s parents, Robert and Mary, both now deceased. But there is so much that Nori doesn’t understand about the three adults because “in her family, silences seemed to groan like an old farm table under the weight of things that could not be spoken out loud.”
As Nori spends time in Louise’s company, the elderly woman invites Nori to read a journal she wrote in the 1950s while serving a medical fellowship at a tuberculosis sanitorium in the Adirondacks. In her aunt’s clear, compelling writing, Nori discovers a Louise she never knew—a woman of courage and conviction who encountered and fought against corruption, fraud, sexual harassment, discrimination, and more in a male-dominated culture and profession.
As Louise’s life ebbs away, Nori begins to view the past, including Louise, Robert, and Mary, with keener understanding and deeper compassion. She also desires to accept responsibility for her failures, experiences renewed hope for a fresh start, and considers the power of forgiveness In this novel for adults, author Johanna Selles offers readers fascinating portraits of two women born in different historical periods who struggle to find their way—personally, professionally, and spiritually—in a world where things aren’t always as they seem and where “people can become complicit in evil while maintaining a sense that they are doing good.” (Resource Publications)