In Delia Ephron’s latest, Siracusa, two couples vacation together in Sicily where their marriages as well as their friendship unravel when flaws are exposed. The story is told in retrospect, with each of the characters giving their own questionable account of a tragic event that is only revealed to the reader at the end when secrets come to light with a bitter vengeance. A literary whodunit.
Ephron (yes, she’s Nora’s sister) lets each of the main characters have their say with distinct voices. While none of them is particularly likeable, they are intriguing.
Michael—an arrogant, womanizing writer of some notoriety, who is a “year behind on a book he isn’t writing.”
Lizzie—Michael’s wife, also a writer, trying to win him back, but doubting her self-worth.
Finn—Lizzie’s former lover, a free-spirited restaurateur who goes on late night rambles striking up conversations with everyone he meets.
Taylor—Finn’s chic, controlling wife, devoted to their beautiful ten-year-old and creepily quiet daughter, Snow who is also on this trip. Snow suffers from (or hides behind) a super shyness “syndrome,” which only her mother believes is real. Snow rarely speaks above a whisper so her mother speaks for her. See? Creepy.
Themes of marriage, friendship, motherhood, secrets, lies, and betrayal weave throughout in a compelling and sinister way.
A few quotes to illustrate Ephron’s wry and stinging observations:
“’Divine the insecurity and compliment it,’ I heard him say not long after he’d used the trick on me.”
“Betrayal of this magnitude is the exclusive province of married couples.”
“The only power worth having is secret power…like having an ace up your sleeve or a gun in your boot.”