LesiaDaria writer

Forty One

Plot summary

Eva Holden is stuck, middle age seemingly a series of the same endless tasks; she’s wondering where life’s going and what it’s all about. Although she agreed to the ‘Plan’ – her husband Harry working abroad for a year to secure financial security – she feels abandoned at home alone with the children and unsure the bargain is worth it. When ex-lover Xavier resurfaces, he presents an all too easy escape. Despite her conscience, Eva is drawn in and soon finds herself more troubled than relieved.

When the family heads to Eva’s native Poland at Christmas, life there seems simpler. But before Harry arrives, Eva encounters another ex, Adam, with whom she got pregnant and aborted a baby long ago. That break-up left recriminations on both sides; now meeting up leaves them unsettled again: it’s clear Adam is unhappy and various experiments with religion haven’t saved him. More of Adam’s past emotional troubles surface while Eva herself takes a dramatic turn for the worse around the New Year. While she recovers, the Holdens stay with Eva’s sister Magda, a doctor and devout Catholic who leads a secret life. From Magda, Eva learns more terrible news about Adam.

With an au-pair enlisted to help, Eva and the children return to England, but life seems as pointless as ever. Pondering her role in Adam’s fate and blaming Harry for focusing on the Plan rather than her, Eva turns to Xavier. Turmoil mounts as more illness besets the Holdens and Harry finally returns. Full of regrets and confusion Eva seeks solace in an empty church on Easter Sunday, where an incident leaves her shaken but transformed.

True to the nature of her revelation, Eva confronts her past and present, as well as a life-altering change to her own person and family in the future. The Plan is thrown into question, and decisions loom for the Holdens, but Eva’s search for meaning has found a new kind of certainty in the face of ever more uncertainty and the ultimate unknown.