It is wonderful to see how such a magnificent author such as Jodi Picoult can evolve. I salute Ms. Picoult for writing such an entirely different book from her usual fare of fraught social issue followed by courtroom drama.
As a British person I am endlessly grateful to Ms. Picoult for explaining American public schools to me, as places not of book-learning, but as a venue for studying the unpleasant realities of life such as office politics, breaking up with one’s significant other, pregnancy, abortion, drugs, alcohol, suicide, and car accidents. In the US of A, the book-learning seems to happen more in college, once these other lessons have been learned. (In Britain and Western Europe, the opposite is true, with the book-learning coming first and life’s lessons later.)
In THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS we have a love triangle in which a smart, witty, attractive, but extremely selfish woman is courted by two extremely smart men.
Husband Brian is a physics professor whose specialty is Quantum Mechanics. Love-of-her-life Wyatt Armstrong is a British aristocrat whose specialty is Ancient Egypt. THE BOOK OF TWO WAYS is the actual title of an Egyptian funerary or coffin text, but it also blends in concepts from quantum physics that posits that there are many universes, and consequently many paths that each of us could have taken.
Dawn Edelstein, the protagonist, seems content enough as wife to Brian, mother to their daughter Merit (named, of course, after an Egyptian goddess) and as a Death Doula ministering to the very sick who are about to die. But when she survives a plane crash all the longings, the what-ifs, and more crucially her long-buried passion for Wyatt Armstrong surface.
And so she abandons husband and daughter to disappear into Egypt to find him.
Unlike other readers, I adored the parts about Egypt, mainly because the character of Wyatt Armstrong jumps off the page, and the chemistry between himself and Dawn positively sizzles. Poor Brian, back in Boston, is not nearly so interesting and frankly I couldn’t wait for those passages to end.
Most readers are going to be very disappointed about the ending because it simply doesn’t end. And so there is no resolution to the love-triangle story that has proved to be ~ for the most part ~ so gripping.
However, one cannot deny the massive amount of research that Jodi Picoult did for this book to be possible. Not only did she have to inhabit the newish world of Death Doulas, but also those of Physicists whose specialty is Quantum Mechanics and Archeologists whose special is Ancient Egypt. Five stars.