Have you ever wondered how you can fake a happy face even when you are down? This idea of sharing real confidences is the theme of Nichole Bernier’s first novel, “The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D.”
Kate Spenser is shocked when her friend Elizabeth is tragically killed in a plane crash. She is also unsettled to find out that Elizabeth has left her a trunkful of journals with specific instructions: start at the begining and when you are finished decide who should get them.
Elizabeth’s husband Dave tells Kate that he suspects she was having an affair at the time of her death because he read some of the recent journal entries from the book stashed in her bedside table. Elizabeth can’t resist reading some which describe a man who she is planning to meet but then quickly honors her friend’s wishes and starts reading from the beginning of the journals.
She learns that her friend was not necessarily the person she thought she was. Elizabeth wasn’t a very open person as evidenced by this note from her journal. “Confiding in people rarely makes you feel any better, just feeds them information that they don’t know how to respond to and changes the way they see you.”
I won’t spoil the ending but I will say that the mystery of Elizabeth is resolved in a way that I didn’t predict and this question of what we really share will make for great book club discussion.
As Kate completes the journals she starts to question her own friendships and the things that she shares. Kate says that “it occurred to her that there could be in most relationships two distinct tracks of conversation taking place at any given time: what people actually discussed about their lives, and what people did not discuss but was very much on their minds.”
What I love about reading is that this line of thinking caused me to reflect on my own life. In this world of Facebook and Twitter it’s fun to share the easy, breezy things. But how can we share the things that aren’t such fun? And should we? After all, as Elizabeth said, confidences might not give you anything back and they might just change how people feel about you.
In the end, for me, I have decided that I need to share some of the harder things with my closest friends, they just might not always be on Facebook.