I read this book on the recommendation of a friend. When I first started I’ve Loved These Days by Bethany Turner I was a little skeptical. The book begins with a letter to Jacqueline Onassis. That was enough to grab my attention. The following pages are notes from Dr. Alec Redmond. Dr. Redmond is the psychiatrist who is treating Abigail Phelps, the strange protagonist of the story. I thought here was another book about a mentally ill person and her psychiatrist. What I didn’t expect was a well plotted story; the chronicle of a madwoman.
Basically, Abigail Phelps is suffering from a delusional disorder in which she is convinced she is famous, and has an ongoing relationship with John Kennedy, Jr. However John’s uncle, Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy, opposes the relationship and is actually a threat to her.
Written as a memoir with side notes from Dr. Redmond, the story is both compelling and disturbing. As Abigail composes her memoirs the story unfolds against the back drop of the world of ice skating. Beginning with the formation of her life-long friendship with actor George Clooney, moving on to a skating relationship with Olympic Gold Medal Winner Christopher Dean, and culminating in a doomed romance with John Kennedy, Jr. Abigail becomes involved in complex associations with real life people. It’s obvious Turner has done her research. Her descriptions of the characters; their mannerisms and language, is spot on. She captures their identities and adroitly weaves them into her fantasy world. There were moments I forgot I was reading what was supposed to be the memoir of a mentally ill woman. The relationships rang true, the dialogue believable.
I found it particularly interesting that Abigail Phelps believes has been an Olympic ice skater, a world famous actress, a brilliant writer, and the fiancée of Kennedy. The identities she claims as hers are actually real people; different real people. She is Meryl Streep, Nora Ephron, Meg Ryan, and Jayne Torvill. Incredibly the character Phelps sees no confusion in this. Of course Phelps is supposed to be mentally ill so it is not beyond belief she would see herself in these different identities.
Essentially I’ve Loved These Days is a book about a mentally ill woman writing her memoirs. But that description is much too simple to define this gripping tale. It truly is a book you must read to fully appreciate the intricacies of the plot. More than just an ill-fated romance, it’s unique, creative, and unforgettable. I have already added the next two books in the series to my Kindle. In short, I’m hooked.
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