Jodi Picoult has a magical talent for writing novels that address social issues and concerns while, at the same time, offering readers an involving story with plot, character and a bit of education.
This time the background (and foreground) issue is the Covid epidemic. For some readers, it might still feel too close and they might want to skip reading this title. I would argue against that. In addition to re-experiencing some of the trauma, I was also reminded of how far life has come (at least for those who have been vaccinated). This, of corse, does not mitigate the deep losses that so many experienced in the real world.
The protagonist of this novel is Diana. When the story opens, she is working for Sotheby’s and is in a relationship with a surgical resident at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Diana is working with a client who seems to be based upon Yoko Ono. Due to Diana’s work, readers are treated to some interesting art and music history. I enjoyably learned a lot about Toulouse Lautrec.
Diana and Finn are planning a trip to the Galapagos Islands. Finn cannot/chooses not to go because of the emerging pandemic and his need to be at work. He encourages Diana to go on the trip and she does. Finn’s emails to Diana offer all of the horror of Covid, especially the early impotence that medical professionals felt in the wake of this tsunami of an epidemic.
Diana makes it to the Galapagos but is stranded there because travel is cut off. She manages to get settled, leading her to meet with a troubled adolescent, her father and her grandmother. They open Diana up to a new world. It is most likely no coincidence that our main character is living where theories of evolution were formed as she may be adapting and changing too.
The Galapagos are beautifully described and form a contrast to life in New York. Which place is right for Diana? Which relationship? What plot twists will Ms. Picoult bring to this, her latest novel? Read the book to find out. I highly recommend it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.