Tucker's novel is structurally dextrous, boasting a chorus of extraordinary voices and assured parallel plot lines separated by four decades. In the present day, 23-year-old Dorothea has left her overprotective father's secluded 35-acre New Mexico estate, called the Sanctuary, where she and her brother, Jimmy, had been sheltered from current news and all modern-day innovations. Searching for her runaway brother in St. Louis, Dorothea meets a recently widowed doctor-turned-cabbie, who introduces her to the vibrant outside world he's been trying to escape. A parallel tale set in the 1970s follows the budding romance between a successful film director and the waif who becomes his muse, his wife and the object of his obsessive control. The tour de force resolution that ties both stories together is a lyrically poignant reminder of the necessity of hope.
Pages: 352 pages (hardcover)
Rating: 6 out of 10
A few weeks ago, I visited our local library. People had told me that it was quite lovely and had recently been renovated. I was also excited to find out if they have a book club. When I entered the building, I signed up for a library card which I always think is fun . (I know NERD alert!) I asked about the book club and found out that there is a book club which meets on the last Wednesday of the month. They also had a copy of the book which had just been returned. Even though I was not sure if I would enjoy the book based on the cover (shame on me for being so quick to judge), I decided to check it out and come to the first meeting.
Once Upon a Day by Lisa Tucker turned out to be a very interesting and engaging read. I had it by my bed and often went to bed later than intended because I was so engrossed in the story. The character I liked the most was Stephen who became a cabbie after his wife and daughter were killed in an accident. The story was engaging, but I did not find it as satisfying as I was hoping.
Towards the end, the plot lines seemed to come together too neatly. Also, some of the choices made by the characters did not have realistic consequences. I am looking forward to the book club discussion about this book in a few weeks. Until then, I am going to ponder some other points of discussion.