Like this author’s earlier book The Grift, this one also represents an epistemological departure from the empirical realm. Normally I’m not big into the “woo-woo” side, but this author has now managed to rope me in twice!
Eden (“Edie”) Harrison has just been proposed to by her boyfriend Derek and is loving life in Portland, Oregon, when she develops heart disease bad enough to require a transplant. Just when she thought she would survive no longer, she gets a donor and has successful surgery. Afterwards, although Derek is attentive and patient during her recovery, Edie is no longer very interested in him. Nor does she even like Portland anymore, or the same colors, or music, or foods of which she used to be fond. She has troubling dreams, and feels an overwhelming compulsion to relocate to San Diego. She drops Derek, and moves.
Meanwhile, in San Diego, we meet Darcy Silver, the beautiful trophy wife of a manipulative, controlling, and rich older man. Darcy is having an affair, and desperately needs someone to talk to about everything. When Edie and Darcy meet, they feel an immediate empathic connection, and become each other’s only friend.
But a lot of things are wrong. Edie is not who she used to be. Darcy is not who she seems to be. Edie’s unbidden thoughts and dreams are getting stronger, and often involve Darcy. The tension in the book ratchets up as the suspense and danger build. And Derek still hasn’t given up on Edie, or at least the Edie he once knew. But can he help? Can anyone help?
Discussion: This story is based on the idea of “cellular memory” – the belief that, in this case, the heart is not “just a pump or a senseless lump of muscle,” but that it remembers.. Getting a transplant, according to this way of thinking, means that you get more than merely tissue; you also receive the consciousness of the donor, which then merges with your own personality. It’s a clever plot device, but you really have to suspend any scintilla of biological knowledge while you read! (Or I should say, I had to – there are many people in many professions who believe in cellular memory. You can read more about it here.) But Ginsberg manages to throw in enough suspense and interesting plot developments that it is an entertaining book no matter what your intellectual biases!
Evaluation: This is a fun summer read, by an author who is able to spin phenomenological notions into diverting suspense novels.
Published by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group, 2012