Mrs. Kimble by Jennifer Haigh

It’s a strange night.

I’m home alone with a dozen roses in the crystal vase on the coffee table. A pot of Oolong and my mother’s English bone china teacup to my left. Burning tea lights litter the end tables because now it’s fairly dark at 7:30.

I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to be home alone.

It’s quiet.

It’s so quiet that there’s sort of an empty, waiting feeling inside. A cautious waiting, hoping there isn’t something scary out there in the dark.

I feel almost like one of the Mrs. Kimbles

I found this book on the leaning tower of books at Costco, where one must rummage through all the pulp fiction for something of quality literature. I saw the little circle, first, indicating that Mrs. Kimble had won a Pen/Hemingway award. It was about six dollars, so I threw it in the cart with the salmon and the roses, not dreaming I’d picked up a treasure.

Jennifer Haigh, author of Mrs. Kimble, writes as few young women authors do today. I’m so very tired of the trite novels that one finds in Target’s end caps, the ones lauded as worthy literature, with nothing to say in the end. Nothing to puzzle over. I’m not going to go into titles here; the last time I did that, I’m afraid I offended the author who left a very sweet comment in my comment section and a sickening feeling in my stomach because I don’t want to hurt anyone. Suffice it to say, that this novel IS worthy.

Ken Kimble may be the central character as he weaves in and out of his wives’ and children’s lives. But, really, we become the women in this novel, as we feel what it is like to need, to hope, to trust, and to be totally thrown away. I’m amazed at their strength in some cases, complete lack of strength in others, and the supreme self-centered nature of one man who cares not one whit about anyone but himself.

I’m amazed at the picture that Haigh has drawn for us, which is not without hope, but is certainly the most thought provoking book about families I’ve read this year.