This is a book about 4 different women.
Linda, Christine and Audrey live in present day California in a once-grand neighborhood. The economy has affected their lives with job restructures, incomes loses and the guard missing from the guard shack at the front of their neighborhood.
Mala lived in the 1940's. She was a slightly different Romany woman who wanted more than her life was giving her. When she is barred from her tribe for a year, she heads to California where her life drastically changes. She writes her thoughts, dreams and magical spells in a notebook which long after she is gone is bought at a yard sale.
These present day neighbors decided to locate Mala or at least, find out more about her. During their search: Christine's husband is suspected of murder while Christine finds herself pregnant after years of infertility, Linda's step daughter comes to visit and disappears bringing her husband's ex to their home, and Audrey's husband starts a cult while she starts an affair with a client.
Secrets are found out and lives change as the women's search takes them all the way to Texas, where Mala use to live.
Each chapter is written from one of the characters points of view. No woman gets more than one chapter at a time. The chapters may or may not follow what is going on in the previous chapter. Mala's chapters follow her life and what she is doing so have nothing to do with the other three women. You may find this hard to follow as the chapters aren't just about discovering who Mala was or is but about each other the women's lives and what is going on in them.
The struggles and issues each woman faces reflect our society. Laura, Christine and Audrey are dealing with a reduction in income due to the current recession. Mala has to deal with premarital sex. Infertility, adultery and kidnapping also make appearances and each woman must make choices that will change their lives permanently.
The characters all have lives, pasts and family. It gives you a better idea of who they are and how they came to be friends. Some have secrets that they don't want their spouse to know. Others are just trying to figure out there place in the world. Regardless, these women consider themselves friends.
With all the good and interesting things this book has going for it, I found it difficult to relate to the characters. I had no real vested interest. The character I could most relate to was Mala and she lived in the 40's! I'm not sure if it was because each chapter jump from character to character and each character had different issues and dynamics or what. I do know that this book had problems holding my interest.
That being said, I know for some readers this will be a perfect book. They don't need a connection to the characters to enjoy a story. They are well able to jump from character to character and keep track of what is going on with each. If you are that type of reader, you may well thoroughly enjoy this book. If you're not though, you may find this book a bit hard to read.
Three very different women, each trying to reconcile her dreams with reality, are drawn together by a hypnotic voice from the past.
In a once-grand Southern California neighborhood, Linda, a New York City transplant, is panicking over the disappearance of her precocious ten-year-old stepdaughter. Christine, who has struggled to get pregnant for years, finds herself expecting a baby—just as her husband is accused of murder. And Audrey, who’s always played it safe because of her family’s history of bad luck, takes a romantic risk and suddenly finds herself facing a disaster of her own.
When an old journal surfaces at a neighbor’s tag sale, the women are inexorably drawn into the life of Mala Rinehart, an itinerant Romany woman who wrote down spells and predictions in a cryptic, slanting hand. As the three women feel the pull from across sixty intervening years, they vow to discover what became of Mala. For through the worn pages, their happiness has intertwined with hers, their futures spelled out in her chants and recipes. And as they unravel the mystery of Mala’s origins, their lives transform in ways they never could have expected.