Windfall by Penny Vincenzi
Cassia Fallon has been married to her doctor husband for seven years when her godmother leaves her a fortune. She is determined to be sensible, to stay in control. Suddenly, for the first time in her life, she is able to do exactly as she likes.
She starts to question her marriage, her past, her present and future. The money gives her confidence, and her husband Edward can only look on resentfully as she resumes her medical career, sheds some of her domestic burdens, and re-forms old relationships - one of them of a most dangerous kind.
But where did her legacy really come from and why? Too soon the windfall has become a corrupting force. One that Cassia cannot resist...
Review by Brittany:
As a Vincenzi fan, I know that I'm going to love any one of her books. They are all well-written, with delicious prose and characters that I can lose myself in. One of her major talents lies in never having supporting characters, but instead she writes a full cast of main characters. I never fail to get enthralled into the lives of all the characters, and this novel was no exception.
What sets this one apart for me is the implication that money can so drastically change the life of a person. Cassia starts out a semi-happily married woman, playing the role mostly of mother and wife. She helps Edward run his general medical practice, serving in mostly a secretarial capacity. It is clear to the reader from the beginning that there is some resentment in the relationship as Cassia makes it clear that she desires to still practice; however, Edward does not let her play a medical role at the practice. Despite this, Cassia is fairly happy.
Once she receives the money, new opportunities open up for her. She meets with the Chair at the hospital she studied at, setting up a research Chair but also feeling out the opportunity to practice again. She gets offered the chance to work at some low-income women's birth control clinics, thereby starting her career. This opportunity, while fulfilling for Cassia, causes strain in her marriage and, by default, strain in her relationship with her children.
While Cassia is the main character and the monetary gain mostly influences her, the choices she begins to make also affect those around her. In this way, Vincenzi reels the reader into different characters' lives, tying it all together while still maintaining character individuality.
I felt like the drastic changes that came with Cassia's money could still apply today, although the book takes place in 1935. I loved this one, as I usually do with Vincenzi, and definitely recommend to fans of this author or genre.
Why was it, how was it that everything he ever said managed to imply a past, a shared past, tugging her back to it, disturbing her hard-won tranquility.
Such tiny threads, our lives hang on...