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Alice LaPlante’s Turn of Mind is a spellbinding novel about the disintegration of a strong woman’s mind and the unhinging of her family. Dr. Jennifer White, recently widowed and a newly retired orthopedic surgeon, is entering the beginning stages of dementia — where the impossibility of recognizing reality can be both a blessing and a curse. As the story opens, Jennifer’s life-long friend and neighbor, Amanda, has been killed, and four fingers surgically removed. Dr. White is the prime suspect in the murder and she herself doesn’t know if she did it or not.
Narrated in her voice, fractured and eloquent, a picture emerges of the surprisingly intimate, complex alliance between this pair — two proud, forceful women who were at times each other’s most formidable adversaries. The women’s 30-year friendship deeply entangled their families, and as the narrative unfolds we see that things were not always as they seemed. Jennifer’s deceased husband, James, is clearly not the scion he was thought to be. Her two grown children — Mark, a lawyer, and Fiona, a professor, who now have power over their mother’s medical and financial decisions respectively — have agendas of their own. And Magdalena, her brusque live-in caretaker, has a past she hides. As the investigation intensifies, a chilling question persists: is Dr. Jennifer White’s shattered memory preventing her from revealing the truth or helping her to hide it?
Told through the voice of a woman with a powerful intellect that is maddeningly slipping away, Turn of Mind is not only a suspenseful psychological thriller that pulses with intensity but also a brilliant portrayal of the fragility of consciousness and memory, and of a mind finally turning on itself.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By PlantCrone on 08-13-12
Inside an aging woman's mind
Dr. Jennifer White-Not Jenny and definitely not Jen as she eloquently says numerous times- is slowly losing her mind to dementia. This story, told entirely from the viewpoint of Jennifer White, with all her mental losses, is a wonderful but sad trek through the mind of a mother who cared more for her profession than her chidden.
She finally must go live in a care home for the mentally deteriorating but has left a mystery behind her. Along with two adult children who never overcame the lack of mothers love they experienced and as a result have serious problems.
This novel, narrated wonderfully by Jean Bahle-who really gives me the picture of haughty professor and superior surgeon in her reading-slowly moves through the downfall of Jennifer White and of her chidden, Mark and Fiona.
Although the story does move slowly and was hard, at the start, to get in to I became more involved in it as time passed and towards the end I was completely enthralled by it. This isn't a book for someone looking for a lot of action in their plots but instead requires the listener to get to know Jennifer as her character is developed.
As someone who is a peer of Dr Jennifer White, and who has had that missing car keys/forgotten appointment situation happen, I became very involved in the story as it progressed. This could happen to any of us as we age and it's not a pretty sight. LaPlante has taken this woman apart and put her fact together verbally for us to get to know. Do we like her? Trust her? And, finally, did she kill her friend as the police believe? Listen carefully to the details and see if you can figure out the end before you get there..I sure was surprised.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful