#559 The Gin Closet by Leslie Jamison

The Gin Closet by Leslie JamisonThe Gin Closet by Leslie Jamison

Stella’s grandmother is in bad shape. She falls down a lot. She has trouble remembering things. Her body is old and frail. Stella herself doesn’t really know what to do with her own life. She watches her grandmother for a few days before she dies. Lucy, her grandmother, tells her of another daughter. Stella had never heard about this, but there is another daughter. Her name is Matilda, called Tilly, and no one has seen her in years.

After Lucy dies the will must be seen to. There is something in it for Tilly. Stella wants to go and find Tilly herself.

Tilly lives in a trailer out in the desert. She has spent years alone. For a long time she was a prostitute. She took to drinking and then she wound up pregnant. The baby was adopted by his father, who had plenty of money to provide him a good life. The son is grown up now, named Abe, and he still sends his mother money.

Tilly isn’t overly enthused, or surprised, to see Stella or learn of the news of her mother’s passing. Stella tries to help straighten the place up. Tilly has made a small room into her drinking room. It’s the closet where she keeps her alcohol. It’s time for Tilly to make another go at life. Abe has offered to let her stay with him. Stella goes along.

Stella is dealing with her own issues along the way. She was dating a married man and things got complicated. She doesn’t quite know what to do with herself afterward. She finds strange and comforting things in her newly found cousin. He’s strong and protective. He makes breakfast. These are things Stella is not used to.

Tilly tries the real world. She tries at a job. She tries very hard for a while, but all her trying soon falls apart. Tilly is an alcoholic; she has an addiction. Without therapy and treatment, it’s difficult for her to stay away from her old ways.

Tilly fades more and more, while Stella’s life still seems to be neither here nor there, but she can hold herself a little better now.

What I liked

I liked how this story progressed. Stella would tell her story and then Tilly would tell her story. They would take turns with the melody of the whole thing, while overlapping only a little. One of them would pick up the story right where the other left off, unbeknownst to them of course.

This whole family is lost and trying to find themselves.

What I didn’t like

The book itself was an enjoyable enough read, but it wasn’t spectacular, but not every book is, so that’s ok.

None of the characters really seemed to be that great. Sure, a person feels sorry for Tilly, but she caused a lot of her own problems. A person feels sorry for Lucy, but likewise, this woman caused a lot of the problems in her life herself. A person feels sorry for Stella, but it’s the same kind of deal. She caused herself a lot of the problems she dealt with in her life.

Out of all the main characters, Abe is the one who seems the most mysterious. Actually, they’re all mysterious. There is a lot of the back story that is filled with gaping holes. Really, why did Stella end up with a married professor? Why didn’t Tilly ever go back home? How hard would it have been? Dora’s stories and Lucy’s stories are both on the skimpy side, but they shape how the other characters turned out.

I don’t really think anyone ended up any happier than they started out as. That’s not a requirement of a story though; people don’t have to end up happy at the end.

Two people withered away in the course of this story; people helped, but not enough. Why not take Tilly to a treatment center? Abe seemed as if he had enough money. Why not get Lucy home health aides? In the end, I don’t think Tilly would have ever been able to live a normal life after living so many years as a prostitute and alcoholic. I think she was a lost cause, which is harsh, but sometimes, it happens.

Overall

Well, I hope Stella and Abe manage to get one with their lives.

Weigh In

Do you think there were too many secrets?

What about the help the characters offered each other–was it enough or should they have done more?

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