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The parent trap

Anita Shreve returns with Rescue, a fairly standard love story framed by car crashes.

Anita Shreve
Little Brown

Anita Shreve returns with Rescue, a fairly standard love story framed by car crashes. Beginning with a near-fatal accident on a deserted highway in New England, Peter Webster, a junior paramedic, pulls Sheila Arsenault, an injured and intoxicated young female driver, from the wreckage of a Cadillac. The crash provides the set-up for an unsurprising unravel: Webster falls for Arsenault as she recuperates, the two become lovers, before subsequently marrying when she unexpectedly becomes pregnant.

Family life proves too stifling for Arsenault - a sketchily drawn woman with a destructive, party-girl past. She slowly succumbs to alcoholism while trying to fulfil the role of stay-at-home mother to Rowan, the couple's young daughter, before Webster eventually banishes his wife from the marital home after she is involved in yet another drunken car crash.

Fast-forward a few years and Rowan is about to graduate from high school but showing the same addictive tendencies as her absent mother. Webster calls the only woman he knows who could save his troubled offspring from herself. All very predictable, but Shreve makes it somewhat diverting in the telling.

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