Book Review: Lichtenstein's 'Lost'

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Alan Cheuse reviews a new novel from Alice Lichtenstein, Lost. The book tells the story of a scientist living in New England whose husband is slipping deeper and deeper into Alzheimer's disease. One winter day, he disappears.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Robert Siegel.

It may be risky, giving your novel the same name as a successful TV series, but author Alice Lichtenstein did just that. The book is called "Lost," and that's where the similarities end.

Alan Cheuse has our review.

ALAN CHEUSE: "Lost" dramatizes the struggle by a scientist named Susan Hunsinger to keep her marriage together as her architect husband Christopher sinks deeper and deeper into Alzheimer's dementia.

The novel takes place over mostly two days during a cold month in rural New England. Dr. Hunsinger's ailing husband Christopher has wandered off into the woods, and the desperate scientist struggles to hold her life together during the ensuing search initiated by the county rescue squad and fire department.

A lead member of the rescue team pairs up with her in this quest, but he has problems, mainly marital, of his own and can barely hold his own head high. How a person acts under stress is the key to the soul is how Jeff, this rescue squad guy, sees it.

Neither he nor Susan Hunsinger seems to be doing a terribly good job at this until they work together. Meanwhile, there's a wildcard character, a troubled boy named Corey, who in his own disturbed and self-punishing logic may hold the key to all.

All of this goes by with good momentum, since you can read this novel, or at least I read it, at freight-train speed, taking in one scene quickly and rushing on to the next, happy in the end that a novel so replete with misery can turn out to deliver so much reading pleasure.

SIEGEL: The book is "Lost" by Alice Lichtenstein. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University.

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