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Book DetailsISBN: 9781760528768
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Book Review: The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult - Reviewed by CloggieA (07 Sep 2020)
5 stars The Book of Two Ways is the twenty-fourth adult novel by award-winning, best-selling American author, Jodi Picoult. By some miraculous quirk of fate, Dawn Edelstein is one of a handful survivors of a plane crash. During the crash, her thoughts go, not to her family, but to Egyptologist and former lover, Wyatt Armstrong, last seen fifteen years earlier, and the dissertation she never completed. Instead of going home to her husband and daughter, Dawn flies to Cairo, heading for the dig where she believes Wyatt will be. Her sole intention is to complete her dissertation.
By some miraculous quirk of fate, Dawn Edelstein is one of a handful survivors of a plane crash. During the crash, her thoughts go, not to her family, but to Egyptologist and former lover, Wyatt Armstrong, last seen fifteen years earlier, and the dissertation she never completed. Dawn returns to Boston, to her job as a death doula, to a marriage strained by a recent incident and to a teenaged daughter unsettled by self-image and hints of tension between her parents.
Dawn in Egypt recalls her childhood with her superstitious Irish mother, her three seasons in Egypt, and the thrill of discovery: a new tomb and a new lover. As she once again works a dig, her earlier time shared with Wyatt is uppermost in her mind: how their relationship, both professional and personal, began, developed into a fiery passion for work and each other, and then was cut short in a mercy dash back to Boston.
Dawn in Boston is reminded of her sudden return from Egypt to a dying mother, a hospice, guardianship of a teenaged brother, and the overwhelming responsibility settling on her shoulders. With her marriage now a little wobbly, she thinks back to meeting Brian Edelstein and their shared life. At the same time, Dawn attends a new client, a dying woman of her own age with some parallels to Dawn’s life.
As chapters alternate between Egypt and Boston, yielding certain pieces of information, it seems Picoult is taking the reader on two of many possible future life paths of a woman whose thoughts, feelings and emotions have been distilled by a near-death experience. Or, at least, that’s how it looks for most of the novel, until Picoult throws the reader for a loop.
This is a very cleverly constructed story, although mixed ratings indicate that not all readers appreciate the ride. Picoult has patently done a mountain of research. Some of the Egyptology is a little heavy going: the brain tends to skip over tongue-twister Egyptian names and the photographs are indistinct but hieroglyphs are clear; the stories, myths and legends are captivating, as are the Irish superstitions and the death customs. The role of the death doula is fascinating and if the quantum mechanics is quite involved, the concept of parallel universes and alternate potential futures is intriguing.
As usual, Picoult’s characters are larger than life, if not always entirely endearing. Dawn seems to have some double standards and readers may not find her apparently easy switch between lovers easy to forgive. As always, interesting and thought-provoking. This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by Allen & Unwin.
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