Anita Shreve takes a very commonplace story - an abusive violent husband and a submissive wife and turns it on its head! The story is compiled of a reporter's writings and letters from prison from Maureen who is convicted of killing her husband.
We go back in this story 20 years and it is being told in the present to Maureen's daughter Caroline who is a young college student - and the familiar story becomes somehow different in Shreve's hands.
Maureen decides to run away as she realizes there is no choice facing her - taking baby Caroline with her. For a period of six weeks she is able to live an idyllic life in a rural town, enjoying very quietly domestic life with her baby till Harrold turns up and her life is turned upside down once again.
The spectre of domestic violence in the 1970's was not a subject much discussed and rape within a marriage was not even an offence so this was a difficult subject to handle at the time. In the present context we would realize that Maureen could have done much more but at the time there were no options for her other than to run away.
A very straightforward characterization of both Maureen and Harrold make this book an exceptional read.