This is Toronto author Simmons' second novel. The first, Getting Rid of Rosie, came out in 2009. Set in Muskoka, it featured a quirky love story whose main character is plagued by a ghost.
Simmons' second outing is darker, not so quirky, but also entertaining. Like Jodi Piccoult, Simmons uses different characters to relate the story. The result is an engaging book about mental acuity as well as incapability, and emotional strength as well as frailty.
What we have here is not so much another novel featuring Alzheimer's disease -- it is not a reworking of Lisa Genova's recent American bestseller Still Alice -- as the thickly plotted story of a mother who tries to clean up the messes in her life. She thinks she's doing this so that her family can keep their house and continue the Donaldson legacy.
But this simple aim of tidying things up is not easily done. Ruby has a wounded family that needs desperately to find a way to forgiveness and hope. Their wounds are deep and festering.
Ruby is feisty, opinionated and stubborn. As she becomes more affected by the unrelenting Big Al, she learns to lean, just a little, on others. But she remains a rabble-rousing woman, with foibles.
The setting of all this drama is the very real and remarkable Toronto Island, a quiet community located just a 10-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto.
This is a page-turner that will both satisfy and enchant its readers.