Jan Ellison’s novel “A Small Indiscretion” is the story of Annie Black. It’s a story addressed to her college-aged son Robbie, who lies in a coma that’s been induced to help him heal from injuries sustained in a car crash. It becomes increasingly apparent that the events that led to the crash stemmed, in part, from events – and indiscretions – that Annie had thought were long buried in her past.
At age 20, Annie sets of to London with a work permit and high hopes of experiencing life to the fullest. Quickly hired by Malcolm, a civil engineer, she becomes enmeshed in his life and circle. While Malcolm pursues her, Annie pursues and pines for Patrick, an artist who is involved with Malcolm’s wife and with whom Annie has a fairly one-sided affair.
Annie says: “I suppose unrequited love is the hardest kind to shed, because it is not really love after all. It is a half-love, and we are forever stomping around trying to get hold of the other half.”
Unshed unrequited love and indiscretion has led Annie to the fix she is in. Her marriage unglued, by her confession of an indiscretion, her son gravely injured, Annie tries to make sense of her life. Jumping back and forth between her past in London and her present in California, Annie’s narrative is at once a thriller, a romance, and a bildungsroman.
As Annie struggles to save her marriage, the novel races to a surprising – yet satisfying – conclusion. “A Small Indiscretion” is a cut above its genre. Annie is a fully realized character – flaws and all – and Ellison is a gifted and nuanced writer.
“A Small Indiscretion” is available at amazon.com and at your favorite New York bookstores.