The Taste of Air, by Gail Cleare
Publication: Red Adept Publishing, LLC (September 22, 2016)
About the book:
A simple phone call disrupts Nell Williams’s well-ordered life. Her mother, Mary, is in a hospital in Vermont. But her mother is supposed to be safely tucked away in an assisted-living facility in Massachusetts, so Nell can’t fathom why she would be so far from home.
After notifying her sister, Bridget, Nell hops on a plane and rushes to her mother’s side. There, she discovers that her mother has been living a second life. Mary has another home and a set of complex relationships with people her daughters have never met.
When Nell and Bridget delve deeper into their mother’s lakeside hideaway, they uncover a vault of family secrets and the gateway to change for all three women.
Although new to me, this novel was published in 2016 and then I got my hands on it this spring and it’s been patiently awaiting my attention on my Kindle since then. Why on earth I’ve waited for months to read this novel, I will never know. The Taste of Air is such an incredible novel about a mother, her two daughters, and all of the most important people in their lives. Nell and her sister Bridget think that their mother, Mary has been safely and contently living in an assisted living community since after their father passed, but when Nell receives a call that her mother is hospitalized in a small town in Vermont, everything changes. After Nell’s arrival, she learns of a completely separate life that her mother had and never told neither, Nell or Bridget, about. But as Nell and Bridget start putting together the puzzle pieces of their mother’s life, they each discover a new level of happiness that they never imagined.
Mary is one of the most remarkable characters that I have read about. In her younger days, she was young and feisty as she went to Vietnam as a nurse, engaged to Nell and Bridget’s father, and ready to make a difference in the world. Later in her adult life, her daughters observed her as a kind and loving mother and a devoted wife. Little did they know, Mary had a second life that, although unconventional to some, was full of friendship, love, and family. In some ways, I hated that she never told the girls herself, but the slow uncovering of Mary’s secrets are what made this such an addictive read.
Nell and Bridget were close sisters, yet different in so many ways. Nell was quieter and used to a routine with her husband and children, whereas, Bridget was spunkier, on her third marriage, and longing for a piece of her past that she was forced to give away. When Jake and Adam were introduced into the novel, I immediately loved Adam but struggled with Jake. I could tell that beneath his drunken, rough character there was a man with a broken heart – but it took me a while to truly appreciate him.
The Taste of Air had aspects that I expected, as well as, things that completely surprised me. This wonderful novel is full of warmth, laughter, happiness, tears, and confusion all wrapped into a perfect package. I fell in love with Mary’s flashbacks where Gail Cleare bared the innermost secrets of this woman’s soul, and as her daughters continued to learn more about their mother, I especially loved seeing them go after and embrace their own happiness.
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for my honest review.