The Forgotten Room
By Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig
I have not read any other books by these three women, but if this book is anything like them, I may have to.
The Forgotten Room weaves the love stories of three women together in a nature that is both complex and profoundly simple. While each love story has elements of a Hollywood romance, one of the things I liked about each of these stories was how self aware the characters were. They were not stupid and selfish women (and men) in love, but they had their eyes open even as they fell in love and made decisions based on what they saw in a logical fashion.
So many love stories depend upon the emotion of love to carry the character away into irrational decisions. While I didn’t like every decision made by the characters, I could understand them and how they reached those decisions.
The writing itself is evocative and lyrical in its words and images. There were times I highlighted a sentence simply because of how beautiful it was. While the three time periods and three main characters were easy to get confused, and there were enough characters with uncertain heritage to keep matters unclear, that was part of the mystery of the novel.
But what really made this story special was that not one of the character’s story was a “throwaway.” Each woman had a goal. Each woman wanted something badly–other than just “falling in love.” So while The Forgotten Room is mainly a romance (without explicit sex scenes, thankfully), there is a strong plot for each of the characters other than finding a man to marry. Truly, none of the women are even looking to marry: one is looking to absolve her father, the other is looking to find her father, and the third is drawn in by a miniature portrait.
But rest assured: each story is vital to the others, and they flow so elegantly together that you cannot possibly consider this novel without one of the stories. None reads like backstory or superfluous information.
If you like literary novels filled with secrets and gentle romance, ones that don’t always have a happy ending, but are “happy enough,” I would most certainly recommend this novel to you. It’s lyrical prose and evocative imagery kept me entranced, and the characters were complex without being enigmas.