Monday, August 29, 2011

Vital Signs by Tessa McWatt

When Mike's wife Anna suddenly begins speaking nonsense at age 59, it is clearly a serious health issue. The doctors call it jargon aphasia. Mike tries to make the most of their time together, knowing Anna's death may come at any moment. His biggest dilemma is whether or not to come clean about an affair that he had years earlier. He would like Anna's forgiveness, but doesn't want to add to her distress.

It's a tender portrayal of a longtime marriage. The story is somewhat slight, but three adult children in the family add texture, as does the rural setting an hour outside of Toronto. I especially liked artist Aleksandar Macasev's whimsical illustrations depicting Mike's attempts to communicate with Anna when he was at a loss for words.

I prefer McWatt's earlier novel, Step Closer, but the central question in Vital Signs interests me and I'll probably mull over this book for quite a while.

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