Besides the political story, there are several love stories, alternately idyllic, passionate, horrifying, and tragic.
In today's modern world a well designed life is essential to success. Boldness has magic and power in it. Burnett and Evans lead you to the realization that you do not need to settle for a 'small' life. "It is never too late to design a life you love."
This is a Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn movie in book form. However, I am not sure Mr. Grant was ever portrayed running around on a hot summer day, in a Spiderman costume, attempting to stick himself to walls.
This will be an excellent book club book. The narrative is a study in the differences of philosophies: Simon's fatalistic/nihilistic determination; Klara's Determinism; Varya's belief that diligent, perhaps obsessive, organization of life will keep the gypsy woman's prophecy from touching her life - keeping herself hidden in seeming safety, sequestered in science; and Daniel's denial, outfitted with 'blinkers', about his accountability to the role he plays in sending young people into harm's way. We may ask ourselves, and others, whether or not it is the moment by moment decisions we make that comprise the stepping stones toward death. There is much to discuss in the way of human history, and what it is that causes a human being to view the inevitability of death as a journey, filled with opportunities to exercise free will; or a trek ending at a specific destination in time and space.
In this brilliant prequel to Hoffman's Practical Magic, we are introduced to Franny and Jet Owens, as well as their brother Vincent, who is living a life that is not indicative of his true nature. We find the Owens clan in the summer of 1960 being shipped off to visit their aunt Isabelle Owens. She is a harbinger of change in the lives of the Owens children. While their mother has so many strict rules against going shoeless, bringing home stray birds, wandering into Greenwich Village, or falling in love, in their aunt's company the Owens children are allowed to access their natural magic, to begin to explore the true essence of family and what it is to be connected to the universe and everyone in it.
We witness the sisters eventually ignoring their fretting mother's warnings by setting up an apothecary shop in Greenwich Village. Meanwhile, their rock-star brother, who has the natural ability to send love-struck female fans into a frenzy, who despite having glimpsed his future in Isabelle’s three-way mirror, falls in love with a man he considers his sun and moon. We do witness the events surrounding the Vietnam War, as well as the Stonewall uprising as part of the Owens family history. And the subsequent choices that are made by each of the main character because of the war lead us to ask what it means to lose the ability to exercise free will in the face of government mandates. There are many questions inherent in the narrative that inspired me, not the least of which being, “What would you sacrifice to freely live alongside the one human being who makes you feel truly loved?”
De Los Santos never fails to create a smile, which reaches all the way to my eyes, goes beyond that exterior indicator of happiness, and reaches right down to the depths of my emotional intelligence. I began my journey with Cornelia and Teo, the boy who ran around one hot summer dressed as Spiderman, attempting to stick himself to walls. When Cornelia looked into his bottle-green eyes, she knew she was home; in When Love Walked In.
Now, Teo's biological son Dev has become that for Clare, the girl who Cornelia gave safe harbor to when Clare's elegant, yet troubled, mother found herself spinning away from reality. They have become a 'Sunday Leftover' family. Clare is about to get married to obsessive compulsive Zach, who we witness spiraling into controlling-creepiness mode. Luckily, she is visited by Edith, a harbinger of a Nancy Drew like mystery surrounding Blue Sky House.
We are compelled to go along on this journey through time and the social mores surrounding the practices and laws that affected the lives of abused wives and children from the 1950s up to the present day. I am always delighted to experience the imaginative and virtuosic writing that De Los Santos appears to have a keen ability to produce. She never fails to make me desire with all of my being to meet her characters in real life. And of course I am always startled by how quickly I must reluctantly bid them adieu.