Alice Metcalf was a devoted mother, loving wife and accomplished scientist who studied grief among elephants. Yet it's been a decade since she disappeared under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind her small daughter, husband, and the animals to which she devoted her life. All signs point to abandonment - or worse.
Still Jenna - now thirteen years old and truly orphaned by a father maddened by grief - steadfastly refuses to believe in her mother's desertion. So she decides to approach the two people who might still be able to help her find Alice: a disgraced psychic named Serenity Jones, and Virgil Stanhope, the cynical detective who first investigated her mother's disappearance and the strange, possibly linked death of one of her mother's coworkers.
Together these three lonely souls will discover truths destined to forever change their lives. Deeply moving and suspenseful, Jodi Picoult's 21st novel is a radiant exploration of the enduring love between mothers and daughters.
Not Even a Psychic Could Predict This Ending
This one took me a little while to get started. I was apprehensive about reading Picoult as I'd always considered her books to be something only my mum would enjoy reading. How sorely wrong I was. I send my sincerest apologies to Jodi Picoult and now know that I truly should not judge a book by its cover or its readers.
Leaving Time is an amazing book. Picoult expertly weaves in elements of the paranormal, adultery, murder, mother-daughter love, romantic love, conservation, academia and suicide, all peppered with what I, as a first time reader, can only take to be her signature magic.
This book is written and edited fairly well and I feel that it only loses its fifth star for its clichÃ©s. Those being two glaring instances of actual characters, namely, Serenity, the oddball psychic and Virgil the disgraced alcoholic detective. There were also a couple of minor instances where I struggled to determine which character was speaking, even upon re-reading.
This story really does capture the romance of Africa and it shines through between Gideon and Alice, and their relationship, despite it being one that never would have succeeded due to its basis in deceit and tragedy, especially with its discovery resulting in the subsequent suicide of Grace and the murder of Jenna.
I cannot even fathom how I have gone so long without reading Picoult, in addition to having a completely ill-informed opinion of her writing. I loved this book, and at the end of it all, love and elephants was what mattered.
a brilliant read.
From and ARC kindly provided by Allen&Unwin and TheReadingRoom
Leaving Time is the twenty-first novel by popular American author, Jodi Picoult. Alice Metcalf is a scientist whose field of study is grief in elephants. Alice has been missing for ten years. Her thirteen-year-old daughter, Jenna is determined she will find her mother: after all, Alice would never have voluntarily left Jenna, of that she is certain. Her grandmother is reluctant to discuss it and her dad, Thomas Metcalf is now in a catatonic state in a mental institution. Jenna has done her research into what happened at the New England Elephant Sanctuary, which was set up by her dad, on the night her mother went missing. She has used the internet exhaustively and pored over her motherâ€™s journals. She has saved her babysitting money and uses it to engage a psychic, Serenity Jones, once famous but now disgraced: Serenity is within her budget. She also tracks down Virgil Stanhope, an ex-cop turned PI who was called to the Sanctuary on the night in question. Neither of them, however, is initially willing to help, but before long, guilt, intrigue and a bit of paranormal persuasion ensure their involvement. Serenity warns Jenna that she may not like what she discovers. Of the possible reasons that she has not returned there is the ultimate one: that Alice has died.
As usual, Picoult employs several different narrators to tell the tale. Her characters are well-rounded and appealing: Jenna is a smart, sassy and tenacious teen; Alice is much more human and flawed than the picture Jenna first paints of her; Serenity is a fiery character who once had a genuine psychic gift; Virgil, an alcoholic PI whose conscience wonâ€™t let up. Their dialogue is quick and clever: the banter between Serenity and Virgil is delightfully funny, as is the interaction between Serenity and her computer tech. It is impossible not to chuckle and readers will often find themselves laughing out loud, but Picoult also gives the reader many thoughtful moments and a few to cause a lump in the throat. The plot is original; the intrigue makes this a novel that is difficult to put down; and Picoult includes a perfect twist that even the most astute readers are unlikely to see coming.
It is quite apparent that, once again, Picoult has done extensive research, and not just on elephants: this novel explores grief (both elephant and human), the nature of memory, psychics and paranormal phenomena, and the bond between a mother and child; it also touches on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dreams, bipolar disorder, and missing persons. This wealth of information is conveyed in easy-to-assimilate form that will, none-the-less keep the reader thinking. The comparison between psychic and detective skills is an interesting one, and thanks to the internet, instructions for folding an origami elephant are easy to find (http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-elephant.html). While it is not necessary to read the two short stories (Where Thereâ€™s Smoke and Larger Than Life) that are prequel to this novel, readers who do so will be glad of the extra information they provide. Prospective readers may wonder if Picoult can continue to maintain her usual high standard: with Leaving Time, they can rest assured. This is, once again, a brilliant read.