Today I finished reading a novel called “Bittersweet” by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. It starts out as a story of two college roommates (Mable Dagmar and Genevra “Ev” Winslow) that are from opposite sides of the tracks. So, naturally I think that it will end with the two of them becoming friends and accepting each other’s differences.
I have never been more wrong!
Mabel goes to stay with Ev and her family over the summer where they start to become closer, but then drift apart as Mabel begins to discover their secrets. Secrets of a wealthy and powerful family that takes what they want regardless of how it affects anyone else. Using power to take from those that they see as “less than” to satisfy their own selfish need. Mabel alternates between wishing that she was a Winslow and being terrified of them as more secrets unfold. What surprised me was that in the end, she chooses to stay with them…to become one of them. I wanted her to be with Galway but after learning the worst of their secrets, I expected her to walk away. Granted, she and her mother-in-law took down the man behind all of the terror and violence, she still ends up becoming everything that she formally disapproved of.
This novel started out sweet and innocent, but the further into the story you go, the worse it becomes. It’s very well written and intriguing, but this family is extremely messed up.
It does however end on a somewhat happy note. Despite the fact that they continue to steal from other people, it seems like a safer place without the one person that most often used power for evil. Surprisingly, Ev and Mable’s friendship in unable to withstand the secrets that are uncovered despite the fact that they are now a part of the same family.
Beverly-Whittemore says that most of her work is “about finding one’s place in the world” so I guess in this case they were meant to switch roles. Mabel was destined to become a Winslow while Ev somehow becomes the outsider