Koslow tells the story of Molly Divine Marx, the 35-year-old wife of a philandering plastic surgeon, Barry Marx; the mother of 4-year-old Annabel; twin sister of the slightly unhinged Lucy; and daughter-in-law of the snooty, everything-is-about-appearances Kitty. Molly somehow died along the Hudson River during a late winter bike ride and finds herself in the "Duration" (or heaven or the hereafter or whatever you want to call it). She is able to watch over the people she left behind, and a newly discovered "bullsh*t detector" makes her observations both sad and highly entertaining.
The story is told from Molly's point of view in both the present and the past. She follows Annabel as she tries to make sense of her mother's absence, Lucy as she comes to terms with losing the sister whom she loved but didn't always show it, and Barry as he tries to juggle the circumstances surrounding Molly's death and the overbearing woman who is trying to take Molly's place. Brie, the best friend simultaneously dealing with grief and confusion about her sexuality; Luke Delaney, the co-worker who meant more to Molly than anyone knew; and Hiawatha Hicks, the detective assigned to Molly's case also are shown in great detail. Part of the charm of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is the characters. Although there are numerous supporting characters, they all are unique and interesting, and not once did I find myself bored or unable to keep track of the various players.
But Molly steals the show. It's hard not to fall in love with Molly, even as she lays out all her faults, regrets, and frustrations about the things she wished she'd done or didn't do. She relieves her past to figure out how she ended up dead well before her time. What I liked best about Molly was that she wasn't perfect, and everyone can identify with her in that respect.
And Koslow's writing style grabbed me from the first page and took me on an emotional ride. I really liked that Molly was sarcastic and bitter in some parts, then nostalgic and sentimental in others.
Conventional wisdom suggests that infidelity is about punishing the husband or the wife. I beg to differ, and always did, starting that night. It's too late now to sort this out with Dr. Stafford, my marriage counselor. More's the pity, since last month our health insurance certified Barry and me for ten more sessions. In our therapy, which we went to for several months, I always claimed that I never got involved with another man to get back at him. Well, it's past my dying day, and that's my story and I'm sticking with it. Luke was never, ever the not-Barry. He was always Luke, with his own magnetic field. I can't explain why I was drawn to Luke Delaney. Why does someone love the color orange or a Mozart sonata? I just was. (page 71 in the Advanced Reader's Edition)The Late, Lamented Molly Marx had me up late, reading furiously to uncover the truth about Molly's death and her numerous, complicated relationships. The book has a light, fun aspect to it, but a serious, heavy tone as well. It really makes you think about how you're living your life right now. If today was your last day, what would you do or say? What would you regret doing or not doing? How do you want to be remembered? The last several pages made me cry, which is not something I wanted to do while on the bus. I thought I would enjoy The Late, Lamented Molly Marx after having read a few pages, but I never expected it to affect me so much.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Late, Lamented Molly Marx from the author and Random House for review purposes.