Monday, December 3, 2012
A Desire Path by Jan Shapin
What makes women fall for men who are tied to political causes? "It's called a desire path," she said, indicating a trace of beaten earth that disappeared into the woods." A landscaping term my mother used. Not 'shortcut' - that implies convenience. Desire is rarely a convenience."
Set in the Depression and WWIIs aftermath, A Desire Path traces a love affair between Ilse, a New England housewife, and Andy, an itinerant Union organizer who has grown disillusioned by the in-fighting in the nation's capital. Ilse's husband, Leo, a powerful Washington lawyer, retaliates by destroying Andy's livelihood.
Still in love with him, Anna Mae, a journalist friend of Andy's, returns from Moscow to tend an increasingly senile father only to confront the horrific past that first prompted her escape to the Soviet Union.
Over the years Ilse witnesses Anna Mae's flailing adherrence to Communist doctrine, even as she comes to see her own marriage as so much dogma. She rediscovers her love for Andy and the tension builds as she attempts to break free of Leo's domination.
If you like the historical aspect of historical fiction, then you will enjoy A Desire Path by Jan Shapin. The writing is great and filled with interesting information about labor unions and the political landscape surrounding life during the Depression and WWII. I actually enjoyed reading the factoids more than I did the parts about the characters. For some reason, I just found myself indifferent to Andy, Ilse and Anna Mae - I couldn't get on board with their stories and found myself skipping ahead until I got to read more of the historical information. I also didn't care for the way the narrative jumped around - I know the book is set up in a way to showcase each character's story, but I found the jumping around to be rather distracting. Overall, this book was not one of my favorite reads and I would only recommend it to avid fans of historical fiction (because you will enjoy the historical aspect so much).