Three people face the challenge of coming to terms with an unpleasant past in Cindy Martinusen’s Eventide. There’s Carrie, a brave and adventurous woman who’s in a healthy marriage, but whose physical health is quickly deteriorating due to cancer. Also there’s Lauren, a lifelong friend who will come out of her shell to see that Carrie’s questions about the past are answered. And, finally, there is Graham, a man Carrie loved many years ago, but hasn’t spoken to since the night he broke her heart in Italy. All three cross emotional barriers and make courageous leaps of faith to resolve any grievances by the time Carrie dies.
The novel takes on a unique structure from the beginning. It starts when they are adults, and then works backward to the time when Carrie and Lauren were little girls and Graham was a stranger to them. This technique shows how events in their childhoods shaped them into the people they are as adults, and, in Graham’s case, how he developed his weaknesses and fears that would lead him to act as he does later in life. As adults, Carrie and Lauren’s relationship feels genuine, but Martinusen’s dialogue is often overly formal when she deals with younger characters, having them sound more proper than most adults. The most powerful relationship in this book about relationships is intended to be a minor one. It begins when Graham meets Carrie’s husband. They’ve both loved Carrie at one time, and the way they respond to each other is a window into how their relationships with Carrie have affected their lives.
Just when it seems that the book is going to settle into being purely a romance story, the events of Graham’s childhood take an interesting twist that is completely unexpected. The decisions he must make are doubled in difficulty when Lauren requests his help in bringing back something for Carrie from Italy. Any choice he makes will now affect not only their relationships, but it could also lead to the revealing of a secret that he’s kept to himself for a long time.
Although this book deals with the lives of three different people, Carrie is at the center of everything. Her struggle with cancer is portrayed in a painfully realistic way, showing the confusion and hurt it causes her husband and son. It’s interesting to see how Carrie’s cancer causes her to be conspicuously absent from many of the main events of the book, but the story remains hinged on her attitude and outlook on the life she has left to live.
Eventide is a well chosen title, because it reflects everything about the book, the pacing, the emotional journeys of the characters, and Carrie’s peaceful approach toward death. However, the story is told in an almost impersonal way. It feels as if the reader is watching the story unfold as a whole, and never really gets deeply involved with any one character. Perhaps this is just the style of Martinusen’s narrative; but, even so, reading this book is somewhat of a calming experience. That is most likely because of the poetic phrasing. Those looking for a relaxing read will find in Eventide a peaceful exploration into death and the resurrection of memories buried but not forgotten. – Devin B. Wieland, Christian Book Previews.com
Eventide: the time from when the sun begins to set until total darkness has descended...It was once of those magical seasons that lives forever in memory. An Italian seaside village. Days of adventure and romantic exploration. Moonlight swims in a sparkling sea. A once-in-a-lifetime love. And though it ended in heartbreak, though she moved on to marry happily and have a son, Carrie never quite put that summer behind her. Now she's dying young and still haunted by thoughts of her long-ago love. Her best friend Lauren, determined to put Carrie's mind at ease, sets out to do something completely foreign to her own cautious, conservative nature. Out of love, Lauren will find and confront the man she despises, the man who broke her best friend's heart, the man who has spent the last twenty years running from his past. Out of love, she will journey alone to retrieve secrets left behind after that never-for-gotten summer. And somehow, she will set into motion events that change nothing...but transform everything. As the mysteries of twenty years unravel, as husband and son and friend and even a long-lost love converge to say goodbye, something unexpected unfolds. Another seaside adventure. Another moonlight swim. And somethow, even at eventide, the miracle of enduring grace.