The Many Lives We Live

By | June 25, 2015 at 3:03 am | No comments | Book Review, Columns

By Heidi Simmons

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“Life #6”

by Diana Wagman

Fiction

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Life is short.  But, it doesn’t mean we don’t live multiple lives.  In Diana Wagman’s Life #6 (Ig Publishing, 296 pages) a woman must come to terms with her past and her illness.

Fiona learns she has breast cancer from a voice mail her doctor left on her cell phone.  Somehow this information doesn’t jolt or destroy her.   As she contemplates the message and what it means to “find an oncologist,” she only feels numb.

Facing mortality, Fiona considers the ones she loves.  Her marriage is disintegrating.  Her husband is distant and angry since losing his job.  They hardly speak and now have very little in common – if they ever did.  Her son is independent and away at college.  She is left thinking about her life and the impact of Luc, a former boyfriend.

Luc was Fiona’s first true love.  She left college to go on a sailing adventure that turned into a deadly nightmare.  But Fiona can’t help wonder whatever happened to Luc and if he might make her whole in the way she had always dreamed.  When she Googles his name and gets in touch, Luc wants to meet.  He is single and wants to rekindle a love that he says never ever died.

Leaving her world behind and any thought of fighting cancer or dying, Fiona hooks up with Luc.  The feelings she had as a young girl rush back, and it’s mutual.  Thirty plus years later their chemistry still exists.

But life is never simple and Fiona must decide what life she wants to live – especially since her time on Earth maybe short.

Although the description of the story sounds female-centric and melodramatic, author Wigman writes Fiona’s life as an exciting adventure, both as a youth and as a middle-aged woman.  As an innocent, simple girl Fiona fell in love with an Adonis and was swept away into a dark and dangerous world.  Men should not shy away from this compelling story.

Wigman changes voice from first person to third as she moves from the present to the past.  This technique makes the read involving and exciting.  When youthful Luc and Fiona board the sailboat and set off across the Atlantic, the pages turn at a gale force pace.

If you have ever sailed –- especially in a terrible storm — this story will put you right back on deck.

This story is beautifully told.  At times the writing is more poetry than prose.  Behind the chapters and under her wonderfully constructed sentences is metaphor and allegory.  Wigman uses nautical terms that have become incorporated into our everyday vernacular without realizing where the phrases originated.  This language adds even more depth and layers to the story she is telling.

Fiona’s character and emotional state is real and complicated.  Life is not easy and the journey we take with Fiona – young and old — is recognizable and honest.

Life #1 was when, as a small child, Fiona flew through her father’s windshield.  Life #2, she was nearly crushed under tires while she hid in a pile of autumn leaves.  The chapters include her many lives up to her fighting cancer – Life #6.

I look forward to revisiting this book.  There is wisdom, compassion and insight to life that can only come from living life fully and under the threat of losing the gift too soon.  I appreciated Fiona’s philosophical view.

Wagman knows of which she writes.  She survived a horrible sailing experience and fought and (hopefully) defeated breast cancer.  After I put Life #6 down, I had a new appreciation for existence and the many lives we lead in our short time here on the planet.

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