Rating: 4 stars
In “One True Loves,” author Taylor Jenkins Reid explores what might happen if someone’s husband is presumed dead but is discovered after several years alive and desperate to return to his loving wife. But in the meantime, that wife has worked through her massive grief and is now engaged to a man she (also) really loves.
Emma and her sister grew up in a quiet Massachusetts town working (often unpaid) in their parents’ bookstore. It was expected that one of them would eventually take over the store. Emma’s sister wanted to be a writer and travel. In high school, Emma fell for Jesse Lerner, the handsome swimmer. They bonded over their shared desire to leave the East Coast and go to school in California. From there, they wanted to travel. Emma wanted to see every exotic location she had ever heard of. Her writing began in college when a course on travel writing included a trip to Alaska. Jesse encouraged her to take the class for the trip, and Emma found that she liked writing about travel.
Jesse was a photographer, and when he got his chance to visit Alaska, it was on their first wedding anniversary. He really wanted to go and Emma couldn’t say no. But he didn’t come back from that trip. And after a while, Emma left their vagabond lifestyle in California to move home to Massachusetts and work in the family bookstore. To her surprise, she loved the bookstore and the quiet peaceful town. She realized that while she loved the ten years of traversing the globe, now she craved the serenity of a regular schedule and familiar faces.
When she bumps into a friend from high school, Sam, she realizes that she is ready to move on. They date, and eventually get engaged. She is happy and settled in a life that she thinks is going to be wonderful. And then…
Three-and-a-half years later, Jesse comes back. And Reid beautifully writes Emma’s heartache and the dilemma she faces when trying to figure out what she wants to do. She loves Jesse and grieved terribly when she thought he was dead. She dated him in high school, college, and for many globe-trotting years. But now she loves Sam, who is a quite different man than Jesse. Solid, feet on the ground, kind and loving, she knows she truly loves him, too.
What to do? Reid offers clues about the way that the story will end, but they don’t detract at all from the heartrending choice and its effect on the men in Emma’s life. It’s a story that is difficult to put down. The writing is evocative. and the first person narrative rings true. The important questions readers will ponder are: Does love change over time? Do we change over time in terms of whom we love? Is there more than one “true love” in a person’s life?
Sign me up for the next Taylor Jenkins Reid book, please!
Please note: This review is based on the advance review copy provided by the publisher, Washington Square Press, for review purposes.