Fiction 2020 | 413 pages
Dawn was on a path to become an Egyptologist, until that career was swept away as she cared for her dying mom. With a radical shift to another part of her being, Dawn became a death doula instead, gracefully supporting individuals as they journey on their last path on earth.
We travel back and forth between her sudden return to Egypt, 15 years later, to explore and understand what she left behind: Egypt, the ancient tombs, the exploration, her dissertation, and Wyatt; and her present-day life with her husband Brian and daughter Meret. We also travel in time back and forth. I found the time travel easy to follow and not jarring. It is a nod to parallel universes. “What if...”
Dawn’s most important death doula client during the time of this book is Win, a lovely and brilliant woman who shares Dawn’s birthday exactly and is married to Felix. Win’s final request of Dawn is to help her write, and to deliver by hand, a letter to the man she loved before Felix. This is a tale about how past loves effect, impact, perhaps destroy, sabotage, or corrupt current loves. Win’s love for Thane and Dawn’s love for Wyatt wreak havoc in their hearts. The story is painfully close to home for me. Sobering. Sad. Full of grief. Perhaps too real.
Picoult tells us a LOT about Egyptology, the history of Egypt, the gods and burial practices and tombs and hieroglyphics. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed with how much knowledge she was imparting. But over time, her explanations began to settle in me, and I gained appreciation for their importance. Picoult also explains in considerable depth what a death doula is, a rather new profession she elucidates for her readers. Through Dawn’s eyes, we gain an appreciation for the role of the doula, and the intense commitment she makes to her dying clients.
I recommend this Casting Crew Book Club read suggested by our own death doula, Marian. Another hard-to-put-down Jodi Picoult.