Jessica's Reviews > Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn

Nothing Is Quite Forgotten in Brooklyn by Alice Mattison
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's review
Nov 11, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: novels
Read in November, 2009

I'd give this 4.5 stars if I could. Brent bought me this book on a recommendation from a colleague; I'd never heard of this author but now I look forward to reading more of her work. The novel jumps back and forth between two life-changing weeks in the life of Constance Tepper. In April 1989, the middle-aged Con is apartment-sitting for her mother when her purse is stolen, setting off a string of events that link back to her mother's relationship with a longtime friend in the years during and after World War II.

Fast-forward to November 2003, and Con is coping with her opposition to the war in Iraq and her tempestuous relationship with her grown daughter, Joanna. Her mother's friend, Marlene, reappears and the three generations meet for a day of Coney Island, opera and some revelations about the elder women's lives during the 1940s.

I love how Mattison draws the relationships between and among the women and allows for generational differences without bonking you on the head with them. She is a master of showing and not telling--her characters appear through their actions and words. Mattison also incorporates news headlines of the day both as background noise and as plot elements. She gives the reader just enough information to reach her own conclusions about the characters' past. Nothing is neatly signed, sealed or delivered.

This book featured many of my favorite themes: mothers and daughters, female friendship, family secrets and a taste of 1940s New York, all folded together by a skilled fiction writer.

My edition of the book featured an interview with the author that went beyond the banal, "How do you get your ideas?" questions and revealed some fascinating bits about the workings of Mattison's mind and the evolution of her career.

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