A Corner of Universe. At 41, she finally feels like she has it all. Zoe is married to prominent physician with a social conscience, Cal, and is pregnant with their first child. She even has a romantic getaway planned to Bermuda, but two days before they are scheduled to leave, Cal's son from a previous relationship surfaces. Seth is cocky, arrogant, and spoiled, but Cal is so excited to have met him that Zoe puts her own feelings aside and tries to welcome him to the family, even postponing the vacation.
When Cal later accepts a long-term position in Africa to help establish medical clinics, things quickly turn sour. Cal has no interest in bringing Zoe along with him, so Zoe stays home to care for his aging grandmother and her unborn child. Seth refuses to leave her house, despite the fact that his father is no longer in the country, and when his behaviour towards her mentally unstable neighbor turns dangerous, Zoe has no choice but to handle the situation, and she comes to some startling conclusions in the process.
A Corner of Universe is women's fiction with an edge. When I first picked it up I was expecting a light read, but was surprised when I found a story of depth and personal discovery instead. The characters in this novel were particularly well-developed. I felt animosity towards both Cal and Seth, too selfish to see beyond themselves. I felt great gentleness towards Hattie, Cal's grandmother and a wise, learned woman. I felt sympathy for Neva, Zoe's next- door neighbor who was deperate for Seth's attention. What I felt the strongest was compassion for Zoe, who is stuck with a selfish husband and pregnant to boot. Rebbie Macintyre has a gift for conveying the emotion of everyday life.
The underlying message in this book in my opinion was, do we let our past decisions define who we are as a person in the present? Zoe and Cal got married on Zoe's mother's deathbed- Zoe's mother was ill for a long time and wished that she could see her daughter marry before she died. Cal and Zoe hadn't been dating long at that point, but they were in love, so when Zoe proposed to Cal, he accepted and they marry. When Cal continues to put his career ahead of Zoe and their unborn child, Zoe wages an internal war with herself. Does she fight for her marriage? Does she allow her own needs to take a backseat to Cal's? Or does she go back on her promise to be with Cal forever and carve out a new life for herself and her child instead? This internal struggle that Zoe faces was the highlight of the story for me- can Zoe forgive herself for her past decisions and move on with her life, or will she be stuck in stasis?
I enjoyed this strong, thoughtful novel. Rebbie Macintyre writes with skill, and despite the fact that things did not turn out as I expected them to, I was satisfied with the conclusion. Thank-you to the author for this review copy!
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fans of women's fiction with an edge
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010