And She Was

And She Was by Alison GaylinFull Title: And She Was: A Novel of Suspense
Alison Gaylin
Publisher: Harper (2012)
Number of Pages: 355
How long it took me to read: 4 days
Where I got this book: local library
ISBN: 978-0-06-187820-6

Like a Moth to a Flame

I found this book while perusing the shelves of new mysteries at the local library. I enjoy mysteries with unusual characters, and the description of the main character having a neurological disorder, which enables her to remember all of the events of her life, was intriguing.

Favorite Five

I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, the Glock could make people do whatever you wanted—whether it was getting into the trunk of a car, setting fire to their own hair, or telling the truth. You just needed to be patient, to watch.” (p.197)

4. “Brenna smiled. For the dozenth time, it occurred to her that if they’d forgotten about marriage counseling and tried IMing instead, she and Jim might still be together. That was a pipe dream of course. Jim was better off with Faith, and Brenna was better off with Lee the GPS.” (p.87)

3. “ ‘This is apple juice,’ Iris said. ‘I like orange pineapple.’
“Carol’s gaze moved from the girl’s face to the kitchen door, the small window affording a view of Lydia Neff’s shiny black hair and Nelson, leaning in close, as if to hear her better…
“ ‘Orange pineapple,’ Iris said again.
“ ‘I am not your mother. Get it yourself.’
“ The black eyes widened.
“Carol’s skin heated up. Her voice hung in the air like an odor. What am I? she thought. What am I turning into? For some reason, this made her angry with Iris, which, in turn, shamed her even more.” (p.3)

2. “October 23, 1998. The sound of pumped water, the walk up the path, the cool air in Brenna’s face, the wind through the young trees. Brenna approaches the path, the circle of five benches, the fountain in the middle. Brenna notices the black-haired woman sitting on the far bench. Lydia. Brenna moves closer. She sees the woman’s hands folded at her lap, pale against her black coat. On the right wrist, a tattoo: A dragonfly. Red body, blue and green wings.” (p.334)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “It was the face that would stay with her—the pale skin, the two black eyes, the mouth wrenched open in a sick parody of a smile. Halloween makeup. That had been Brenna’s first, irrational thought, her mind trying to come up with excuses for what she was looking at—the lifeless body, hanging from the thick hook, one foot pushing against the faucet, the water running and running, hot and then cold for what must have been at least twelve hours. The water bill. That had been Brenna’s second irrational thought, which had lasted all of half a second before she’d started shrieking.” (p.280)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“I’m reading a very intriguing prologue—engaging and mysterious with the cast of characters demonstrating their own pathologies and strengths. For example, Carol, one of the main characters, appears to be a severely disturbed individual prone to jealousy, secrecy, and possibly, child abuse and murder. I think this is going to be an interesting read as not only am I learning about Carol, but also about the investigator, Brenna Spector, and her ‘special mental abilities.’ (p.8) This is a fascinating twist to a book plot and I’m looking forward to learning more about these characters. Definitely a thought-provoking beginning.”

“There’s funny and quirky dialogue, especially between Brenna and her non-conventional assistant Trent. I’m currently laughing hysterically over Brenna’s response to Trent showing her his nipple rings (an experience now forever embedded into her memory). As an extremely visual person, I know what it’s like to have memories that just refuse to go away, especially visuals I really want to forget. Ick! And besides the humor, I’m also enjoying the deepening plot and the mix of past and present dialogue, which keeps me off guard in my attempts to solve this ever-expanding mystery. The book’s depth, intrigue, and turns and twists allow me to enter into the minds and the spirits of the characters. I’m so in touch with this book, I find myself forgetting the time and not wanting to put it down to go to bed.”

“I’m fascinated by Brenna’s hyperthymestic syndrome triggered by the trauma with her sister, Clea. What it must be like to live within a brain that never forgets is unimaginable. I think about my long- and short-term memories and how difficult they are to manage at times. What I can’t imagine is remembering everything—the good and the bad, the sacred and the horrific, the simple and the complex. This never fades; not with time, not with therapy, not with any type of ‘letting go’ process. How would I react with this type of ‘gift’? Would I use it to my advantage in my personal and professional lives, or would it simply torture me and lead to mental instability? I plan on reading more on this topic when I finish this book.”

“I need only look as far as my twenty-six years as a therapist to realize the potential horrors this syndrome of not being able to forget anything would invite into my life. I already have memories of crack house murders, head decapitations, gang rapes, childhood sexual abuse, animal tortures, ritualistic abuse and other such pleasantries perpetrated by the sick and twisted. Yet these memories have faded with time and thanks to my defense mechanisms; my spirit and soul remain somewhat intact. But I truly believe I would be insane if these memories were ongoing. There would be no relief from the torture. And what about a patient who has suffered such trauma? I can’t imagine going through the initial horror only to have to relive it time and time again.”

“Wonderful ending! I’ve been engaged throughout and the ending is as well written as the rest of the book. The exposure of secrets and pathology, of trysts and twists, of laughter and sadness, made this a thoroughly delightful read for me. I enjoyed this book so much that I’m going to get all of her past works to read, which is high praise coming from this mystery bibliophile.”

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  1. Cappi says:

    This sounds very interesting. I’m off to to see if I can get it for my Kindle!

  2. LIA says:

    Thriller for sure,given the description by the reviewer of the many facets of this story. Sounds like the characters are well developed and plot / story would hold the reader’s attention. I might give this one a try,based on the review.

  3. Carol says:


    Too funny about the car keys; I can relate! Thanks again for your continual comments.

  4. Janet says:

    Wow! I also can’t imagine what it would be like to never forget. Sometimes I get frustrated when I can’t remember where I left my keys :-), but better that than to remember every single, solitary detail of every thing I’ve ever done, every conversation I’ve ever heard, every hurt I’ve ever encountered! I love this website and this reviewer does a great job “drawing me in”, making me want to read each book so I can learn more. Keep ’em coming…

Leave a Reply to Janet