Twelve Thousand Mornings make up just enough days to round out about 32 years, which happens to be the amount of time that Anne Bennett has left to live, or so her dead lover tells her in a (maybe) dream. Meant to be a sort of carpe diem, this is a much needed message for Anne since she has recently lost her husband, her fortune, and her dignity in the aftermath of a company scandal. Anne is forced to seek refuge at the home of the daughter whom she has not only neglected but almost entirely alienated from her life.
When we first meet Anne she is a nothing more than a contemptible, judgmental and entirely crude human being whose value system is scaled by fashion, weight, and beauty. Told in first person, the reader is privy to the criticisms Anne passes on everyone around her without ignominy. After seeing her sister for the first time in years, Anne can’t divert herself from thinking about how much weight her sister has gained and noticing it at times when it’s not even relevant in the context of their interaction. Nearly everything that goes on both inside of Anne’s mind and comes out of her mouth within the first 200 pages aids to accumulate in the sum of Anne’s despicability.
The most frustrating attribute that Anne possesses though is her acute awareness of her own behavior and the reasons behind why she acts the way that she does. Piece by piece Anne reveals the traumas of her past, but there are times where it feels as if the reader is being beaten over the head by Anne about her trauma. She mentions it again and again, to the point that its repetition almost detracts from its weight in the story. I often wanted to shout out: “I get it! You suffered! Stop being a horrible person!” But perhaps, such character construction is an example of author Mary Driver-Thiel is at her best.
I had to constantly question myself as to whether it was Anne, the text, or myself that I should be criticizing. I was annoyed with Anne for recognizing her issues and not acting on them. I was annoyed at Driver-Thiel for making Anne a character who recognized her issues and didn’t act on them, and I was annoyed at myself when I thought about issues in my own life that I’m aware of and don’t act on. At first I hated Anne, then I thought her self-knowledge was a character flaw, then I realized it was the self I saw in Anne that annoyed me. Driver-Thiel made Anne such a human character, such a flawed and thereby relatable human character that by the end of the book it’s hard to not love her and be happy for her despite her many detestable attributes.
Anne is a character who grows, develops and fully changes over the course of the novel, which is what the book is truly about. There is redemption, pain and reparations to be made, but really Driver-Thiel is making a statement about the life that stand before you. Whether it’s Twelve Thousand Mornings or thirty days, through Anne, Driver-Thiel begs readers to take their lives into their own hands and live as fully as possible. The idea of hope, the hope of change and the change that comes with self-asserted power culminate in an almost fairytale ending that somehow fits perfectly in the twisted, frustrating, and enraging novel.
Written as a sequel to Driver-Thiel’s first novel The World Undone, by personal experience, Twelve Thousand Mornings can easily be read as a standalone novel. However, after reading Twelve Thousand Mornings, I am fully intrigued as to the point of view and character development that inhabits her first work.
Published by Pine Lake Press March 15, 2015, you can purchase Twelve Thousand Mornings at your local bookstore.
FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.