Title: A Year After Henry
Author: Cathie Pelletier
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark August 2014
Status: Read from June 02 to 03, 2014 — I own a copy
It has been a year since forty one year old Henry Munroe unexpectedly passed away. While his mother arranges a a memorial service for her ‘golden boy’, Henry’s wife, Jeanie, is stalking his ex mistress, Evie, his teenage son Chad is drinking and smoking pot, and Henry’s brother, newly divorced and unemployed, is sleeping in the room they shared as children. A Year After Henry by Cathie Pelletier explores the process of grief, loss and letting go.
Each of Pelletier’s characters are struggling to come to terms with the emotional aftermath of Henry’s demise, as well as the changes it has has wrought in the direction of their lives. As the memorial service approaches they are forced to confront their angst and reconcile both their love and ambivalence for the son, husband, father, brother and lover they have lost.
Jeanie is the most conflicted character as her husband’s death occurred just as she had mustered the courage to confront him about his history of adultery. This complicates her mourning process and she develops a mild obsession with one his last lovers, Evie.
I was surprised by the paranormal aspect that Evie brings to this story. It is not really a significant element, but allows Pelletier to explore another facet of grief. Evie is a local bartender and Spiritual Portraitist whose brief fling with Henry haunts her, especially as she realises she is falling in love with his brother Larry.
Larry misses his brother despite having always lived in Henry’s shadow. Henry’s status as the family golden boy is only elevated by his sudden death, particularly in contrast to Larry’s messy personal crisis which includes being forced to move back in with his parents after his recent divorce, and being fired from job as a school teacher.
A low-key character driven novel, there are flashes of humor and pathos in this poignant story of grief, loss and letting go. A Year After Henry is Cathie Pelletier’s 11th book.