Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: January 20th 2015
In Jan Ellison’s debut novel A Small Indiscretion, the author reminds us that the past, though buried, often sits like a land mine just below the surface of the present, seemingly innocuous but potentially deadly. That, when unearthed, the resultant explosion can create massive amounts of unforeseen collateral damage.
In the case of A Small Indiscretion, the mine was buried twenty years deep in Annie Black’s past. The mysterious arrival of a twenty year old photograph is all it takes to set the fuse. In the aftermath, Annie is left trying to fix her broken marriage and her broken son.
Through a fragmented narrative, Annie gathers the shards and shrapnel of memory and history in an attempt to explain and understand what has happened to her family. To uncover blame and find forgiveness. Though Annie addresses her words to her son, this excavation of her past is really only meant for her.
Annie’s story swings back and forth between her past and her present, often skipping decades in a matter of paragraphs. Though occasionally confusing, it emphasizes the entanglement of time, the interrelatedness of the past with the present. However, she anchors her tale with the story of her year in Europe two decades ago, which she pinpoints as the genesis of her current troubles. These troubles, her more recent history, serve as the other anchor, in which she relives her past year. A year that includes a crumbling marriage, a horrific car accident which nearly claims her son’s life, a destructive act which shuts down her business, and her recovered son’s unexplained disappearance.