As If I Were A River by Amanda Saint
Genre: general / women's fiction
Word count: around 55,000 at present and I am just starting to write my 2nd draft.
Specific difficulties Amanda is finding: "Specifically, I find how to get across the themes of the book difficult and after reading your book I realise that I am writing an outline, but I just can't seem to stop myself!"
Kate’s life is shattered when Jimmy, her husband of seven years, goes missing. As she attempts to come to terms with this, she also has to deal with the memories that are surfacing about her mother’s abandonment of the family twenty-four years earlier. Her sister, Jules, returns to England from her job in Japan to support her but they fall out when Kate’s behaviour becomes increasingly volatile, as she despairs of ever finding out what happened to Jimmy. Kate is left with just her friend and neighbour, Gloria, for support when she goes on a self-destructive binge after her grandmother’s funeral that ends with her in hospital. Inbetween Jimmy vanishing and waking up in hospital Kate walks out of her job as a magazine editor, seeks solace in drugs and alcohol and turns to the spiritualist church and mediums in her search for answers.
Nine months after Jimmy’s disappearance Kate is settling in at her grandmother’s house, where she has moved to try and get her life back on track. As she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings, she finds letters from her mother, Laura, dating back twenty years. Kate had lost control of her life as the months passed with no news of Jimmy and the discovery of the letters threatens to send her back on a downward spiral. The story of Jimmy’s disappearance and what led to Kate waking up in hospital seven months later, with no idea of how she got there, are told in alternate chapters as she tries to rebuild her life.
Kate’s troubled relationship with her father, Ken, starts to improve when she confronts him about Laura’s letters. He finally reveals the truth about why so many lies were told for so many years, which helps Kate to better understand his behaviour when she was growing up, and enables her to take steps towards healing their relationship after years of estrangement.
At a self-help group for people who have had loved ones go missing Kate meets two people who show her the very different paths she can go down in dealing with Jimmy’s disappearance. Counselling also helps her to understand how her life has been shaped by her mother leaving when she was just eight years old. Kate’s recovery leads her to a reunion with Laura and the truth about Jimmy’s disappearance is revealed in an epilogue.
I also feel that 55,000 words is rather light. You should be heading more towards 70 or 80.