I REALLY enjoyed this book. My ability to read was a bit scattered and I had to rush to finish it because I only had it for 2 weeks (being a new release and all). It was a little slow at the beginning and this one was decidedly different from all the other books of Morton's in that you get the point of view of MANY different narrators rather than the main 2. This makes things a little confusing at times, because other than the date at the chapter heading, you don't know from the outset whose point of view you're getting.
While Morton keeps you guessing and you keep getting bombshell after bombshell-so the the outcome keeps you guessing. Morton leads you through a maze and you don't know which ones are dead ends and which ones are the real deal until the end! However, I don't know if it's because it's the 5th one of hers and that I'm more used to her style, but I had a hunch, VERY early on, within the first few chapters, actually, and my hunch was RIGHT. I second guessed myself a little because of the clues along the way, but I never fully abandoned that hunch. I have mixed feelings about being right. Loving that I was clever enough to figure it out so early, but also wondering if I truly LIKED figuring it out that early. There were plenty of other things that I got wrong or NEVER saw coming. Or only saw coming maybe a chapter or two in advance.
As always the lessons to be learned are: be faithful to your partner, honesty is the best policy, skeletons in the closet have a way of becoming known, etc.
In some ways it felt like watching a really long episode of "Castle" because Sadie is a dectective and Alice is a murder mystery author with a series with a specific decetive character. The fact that Alice is a writer made things extra interesting to me. She states things about writers that makes you wonder how much of Kate Morton was put into Alice Edevane. Alice once stated something to the effect that any author who claims that they don't put some of their own opinions and interests into their main character is lying. So this book, more than any other, has made my interest in Kate Morton as a person become decidedly more piqued.
I've read some less than stellar views of this book, but I feel like it's more because the people who didn't enjoy it no longer enjoy this type of book. The criticism is along the lines of "it's the same old thing, twists and turns and blatant use of red herrings in attempt to draw you off the path so the ending is still a surprise, but it really wasn't". I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about the many different tangents and sub plots, it was definitely quite a bit more "busy" than her previous books, but in the end, it was ALL connected and ALL relevant. So I think because of that, it worked and could bring up a lot of great things to talk about.
Another story line that is brought up and would be good for discussion is adoption. The reasons why, the reasons why a birth parent might want to remain anonymous, the pro's and con's of being involved in your birth child's life after being adopted into another family and at what point should a birth parent become involved (and whether the child should know their biological parents for who they are or just be led to believe they are close family friends); the pros and cons of open vs. closed adoptions. Because it's split between two time periods, you can also discuss the major social changes that have come about in this topic in the last 80 years.
The other part I thought very interesting was unlike some of the other books she's written, several of the narrators overlap in their existence. For instance, Alice is a narrator both in her teen years as well as into her 80s, so there are characters specific to Alice's younger life (her mother and father), and then characters specific to her 'current' (80s) life (Sadie is the major narrator of 2003). Instead of just two generations, you get 4 here. You get Sadie, a young dective (around 30) in 2003, Alice in 2003 (80s), Alice as a teen (1930s), Alice's mother Elenor as 'Mother' and Elenor as a young teen herself, and Alice's grandmother Constance. It's nice to get that perspective of who people were and who they become and how their upbringing affects who they choose to become.