Abbe grew up in apartheid South Africa while the country was rumbling painfully toward progressive reform and revolution. The daughter of an alcoholic, controlling, malicious, violent and abusive father and a mother whose spirit, heart and family are broken and trampled down to dust by her husband and unhappy marriage, Abbe fell for the opposite type of man for her husband: Greg. A methodist preacher-man, Greg lives his life by the tenets of Christ: forgiving, quiet, dispassionate and forever turning the other cheek and refusing to fight back. Now a wife and mother and years into her marriage Abbe longs for passion and a reprieve from the boredom that permeates her marriage and her life in idyllic Hawaii where her husband shepherds a reluctant and increasingly mutinous flock.
Upon returning to a friend's house where they left their three year old daughter while they went to a movie, Greg and Abbe walk into every parent's nightmare: their daughter has been struck by a car and rushed to the hospital where she dies in surgery. Devastated, Greg and Abbe retreat into themselves and withdraw from each other, each coping with their grief in their own ways. Increasingly consumed by her grief and sorrow and withdrawing from church, friends, and the world, Abbe spends her days and weeks in her home watching the clocks and completing the daily ritual of winding the grandfather clocks. As deeply hidden secrets and truths come to light in Abbe's marriage, she recalls her childhood in South Africa and the weeks and years that led up to the deaths of her parents and beloved grandmother. It becomes clear that her childhood also holds long buried secrets and that Abbe and her brother have different recollections and perspectives on their mother and their childhood.
Infused with the culture and steeped with the superstition of her South African homeland, this vividly and beautifully written story is tragic and heartbreaking. Complicated characters and complex story alike grab the reader and won't let go until the last page. I highly recommend you check out this book the next time you're in the library.
--Reviewed by Ms. Angie