The Song Remains the Same. Allison Winn Scotch. Penguin Group (USA). April 2013. 320 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780399157581.
The beginning of this book has a rather startling suggestion – Nell is one of two survivors of devastating airplane crash with multiple fatalities. When she finally comes out of a coma, she sees two people around her bed and hasn’t a clue as to who they are or why they are there. The minor shocker has do with the fact she has amnesia, not remembering a single iota of her past life. The first few pages are obviously about how she reacts to family and friends who all are out to help her by telling her all about the past. But before that really gets into full swing, Nell somehow intuits that she has a phenomenal chance here, not one most other people get in a lifetime, the chance to completely shape her own future?
So what truly moves Nell? Although she was said to be a superb art dealer who has a fine eye for paintings and other artistic works that are hot sellers, what she does remain are pop, folk, and rock songs from the 60’s through the 80’s and each title is the name of a chapter which cannily parallels the memories of real life Nell is recalling. It’s truly reflective of all the ups and downs of life, along with the thoughtful and emotional reactions and responses arising with each slice of life, a Candid Camera that misses nothing.
The remainder of the story continues in both veins as memories very, very slowly begin coming back to Nell. No, her loving husband wasn’t always so nice, her sister wasn’t always so close and caring – at least without her own motives, and Her father was a very talented artist who loved the ideal in life and supposedly could never cope with the harshness of reality, or could he but not in the way Nell would find acceptable; all she remembers eventually is that she worshipped the ground he walked on. Nell’s mother, however, has a bevy of secrets explaining Nell’s father’s disappearance. That latter mystery coupled with the shocker toward the end of the story is totally unpredictable and rife with tension that is almost explosive.
The Song Remains the Same is a finely written work of contemporary fiction, with a slowly evolving plot with twists and turns in all the right places. It’s a story that is very emotional in nature but feistily engaging at the same time. Our destiny does indeed lie in the shape we create and sometimes that means undoing some faulty hardwiring built in from the past! Superb, Allison Winn Scotch!