3 out of 4 stars
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In La Vida Segunda, Esther Escott takes us to a beautiful part of nature in the Santa Cruz Mountains. In her story, the protagonist is Will, a surgeon who decides on early retirement after having survived a heart attack. He moves to a neglected cabin on land he and his late wife purchased many years ago. He gets to know his neighbors and becomes friendly with most of them: Jonas and Amy, a friendly and helpful young couple; Lydia, a painter who lives in unfortunate circumstances; Julia, a widow, and her young teenage son Manny; and several others.
Before Will moved to Santa Cruz, the area had already seen several murders. Not long after Will arrives, a new murder occurs. Will is in close contact with the deputy, trying to understand what happened and who could have done it. Will they be able to figure it out?
The reader already knows. From the beginning, the author describes everything as it happens. She includes several main characters’ thought processes, and as such, there is not a lot of suspense for the reader. This book gets its appeal from the writing style. Esther Escott paints a beautiful picture of the mountains and its vegetation. You feel like you are accompanying Will on his journey when he rediscovers the beauty of nature as he saw it many years ago. You feel the disappointment when he sees the neglected state of the cabin. You sense his motivation when he starts improving his living circumstances.
The best part for me was how I felt towards one of the essential characters of the book. At first, he seems like an amicable, helpful person, always putting other people’s needs first. Then he becomes human, even slightly unlikeable, after reading about specific actions and comments. Near the end of the story, I again have a completely different feeling towards this person. The author does a wonderful job of guiding the reader’s emotions.
I must admit that I was not entirely satisfied with the ending. It seems to be abrupt like the author wanted to tie up all loose ends in just a few pages. Therefore, I give this book three out of four stars. The book is very well edited. I found only one typo. I would recommend this book to readers who appreciate books about nature and remote living and books with profound character development. There is one scene with unconsented sexual activity. The author does not go into detail about the act itself. She does a great job describing the victim’s thought process after it happened, which may be unsettling for sensitive readers.
La Vida Segunda
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