The hilarious opening of Almost does little to prepare either the reader or the narrator, Sophy Chase, for the drama of what is to come. Almost divorced, Sophy is in bed with her new lover — an art dealer and father of four young children — when the police call her with shocking news. Her almost ex-husband, Will, has died suddenly on the Massachusetts island where she left him just months before. Dazed and grief-stricken, Sophy takes off at once for Swansea Island, hurled back into a life and family — her husband’s grown twin daughters and their prickly mother — she had intended to leave behind.
In the tension-filled days that follow, Sophy’s past and present collide as she struggles to find out how her husband died, what role she might have had in the sudden disappearance of her boyfriend’s ten-year-old daughter, and how she can maintain her equilibrium. The gulf between the island’s summer people and its year-rounders is brought vividly to life in the process, as is the particular beauty of a setting that resembles Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
A story about starting over and looking back, about the pain of staying and the consequences of leaving, and about a woman’s longing for children, Almost presses us to wonder how much responsibility we bear for other people’s happiness — and who exactly we are when we’re in limbo. By this riveting novel’s end, Sophy has it all figured out — almost.