A therapist caught in a web of deceit and lies when working with an archaeologist named Lily Light. Psychotherapist Michael Neeson has listened while she relates her dreams going back to another time period and the Indian White Flower. Feeling confident in confiding in him Lily tells him of being at odds with her husband Jacob and that he decided to not return home during his two-week break. But, for some reason this psychotherapist is drawn to her and travels to her dig thinking he would ignite his own passion for archaeology. Her reaction at first is one of anger and invasion of her privacy but as they begin to bond and talk she becomes Lily and he becomes Michael until Lily has a bad feeling, gets all upset and thinks something has happened to Jacob. Lily takes on the persona of this Indian woman and experiences different emotions when she learns about what happened to him and the fact that a woman was found dead but is this woman he was cheating with? Jacob is shot and paralyzed and the fact that he had a mistress more than upsets Lily. As you get to know Michael learning about Jacob and on their brief time at the dig you get a feeling that he is drawn to Lily as more than just a client. Miriam his wife is reliable, warm and caring but for some reason he needs some adventure in his life.
There are two voices that are heard throughout this novel: Michael the therapist and Lily talking about her relationship with Jacob and how she feels about taking care of him. Looking at him in the hospital and hoping that he gets well yet when it’s her turn to care for him she passes it off twice to his parents. Work is her salvation and talking to her therapist the second as he becomes more involved in her life trying to guide her to make the right decision that will either take her closer to Jacob or away from him completely. She still does not know the name of the mistress and the author has yet to reveal whom the woman is that was shot too.
Reverting back to White Flower it is almost as if Lily is living in a world that she would like to be in instead of the present. But, Lily seems unnerved at times and has trouble making choices yet she reveals her tattoo of a serpent as a male dragon and her husband’s as female dragon. Added in we learn about Serpent Mound where she is working.
Lily appears to be living in two different worlds trying to escape the realities of life even by sorting out photographs and deciding which ones to keep and if at all which ones to toss hoping to almost delete Jacob from her life. As she appears to be in the doctor’s site when he and his wife visit Serpent Mound he’s not sure if she’s there or in Phoenix. Flashing to two time periods we see Lily/White Flower going about life in different ways, each one trying to create their own perfect life. Meeting Jacob and feeling betrayed when she learns the truth behind a plaque signed We Love You Daddy. Joining her on her trip into another world where we are present on the Navajo reservation and learn more about what Jacob’s role is in dealing with them in the present might account for her thoughts about the past. What about his two children from this other woman; how will that play out?
The psychotherapist seems fixated on her at times and although he tries to keep his thoughts and advice objective at times you feel that he is pulling himself back in order to stay impartial and not give Lily a real way out but allowing her to sort things out on her own.
Her Indian background comes into play as she sits in court trying to get her husband custody of his two children born to a Navajo Indian.
Jacob is now paralyzed and might get back the use of his arms to a limited extent while Lily speaks at times with Michael as we hear his rendition of their talks or visits and we get the feeling she is restless, conflicted as author Linda Lee Greene shares the history of the Navajo Indians, the correlation of this story of Jacob to that of FDR and Christopher Reeve who played Superman and was truly an inspiration for Linda writing this story as you will read in the author’s notes at the end of the book. As Jacob progresses a little Lily decides to find a way to meet his children leaving her remembering what her father did to her and the child she lost. Added in we learn that White Flower was having a child and Running Deer was with her trying to save her but her fate was not what Lily would have hoped for her alter personality. At times it seems that she reverts to this other time period and place just to release her tension and find a way to deal with the present but Lily seems bent on divorcing Jacob yet hoping he gets custody of his daughters. Lily listens closely to the judge both times during the two hearings as he explains Navajo Law and the reasons why he is going to postpone his decision for another 6 months until she decides on whether she wants to remain with Jacob. The judge is sure that the children will have a nurturing home with two foster parents on the scene. Whereas she and Jacob plus his parents are beyond the age to adopt children the judge reserves judgment at this time.
The author shares the history of many of the places Lily and Jacob visited when dating and when married and it brings to light their relationship before things went south and this woman, his mistress was killed.
I loved the history of the Navajo Indians and the chapters on the research done to help quadriplegics move again and the surgery that Jacob wanted to undergo hoping he would be able to move his hands and arms again. The tension runs high and Lily is torn between leaving Jacob or supporting him in his efforts to get his two daughters to live with him, being a parent of some type to the girls and yet deciding where her career was going. Would she remain on digs or would she decide on something else? The ending will shock readers and take you along with Lily on a journey that is so compelling, so heartwarming, tormenting and will let you the reader learn that sometimes mistakes lead to something better if you can forgive. With the help of her sister Hannah to listen to her complaints, hear her scream and wipe away her tears, Lily just might decide what is right for her but will it be with Jacob and his parents living under one roof with his children, or will it be to find her own way?
A story of a love gone wrong, forgiveness, understanding her heritage and the heritage of the woman who was part of Jacob’s life, respecting who you are and understanding that not everything is cut and dry or black and white. Davina Yashi was the victim who was shot with two gun shots in her back and if she had survived she would have been worse off than Jacob as the author describes using medical terms his injuries and what they mean and where they are. She compares it to the injuries sustained by Christopher Reeve which becomes a stronghold for Jacob to want to emulate him and hope to have more mobility. When Lily decides to face the man who shot her husband something within her snaps, the reality of the situation takes hold and she begins to feel like she is about to fade and decides to get a bottle of vodka to drown her sorrows. Her anger soars when she tells Jacob about her past and her father and at this point she comes to a crossroads as to what she wants to do about her life, her marriage and why doesn’t he understand her pain?
Miracles happen, perspectives change and it’s up to Lily if she can withstand what Jacob will endure in the future with the healthcare he needs and will she assist his parents as another caregiver? Read what the therapist says as he analyzes their marriage and tries to make sense of Lily Moore Light and Jacob Clay Light and their future. Whether he agrees or disagrees does not matter; what does matter is whether each one can forgive, forget, understand and join as one once again.
A story that will give readers much pause for thought and one that hits home, as my cousin is a paraplegic losing his legs the week before his wedding and with hope, family support, the support of the woman who married him anyway, two children and tons of grandchildren he is now one of the most renowned Oral Surgeons in the world. Jacob refused to give up but what about Lily? For anyone in the same situation this book is a definite must read and will give you and your families hope. Jacob was the light and a paralyzed person and the research sites listed at the end of the book will provide resources. Posted in the footnotes are also resources that will help readers understand the struggles of others that the author sited within this outstanding book. Cradle of the Serpent - goo.gl/i3UkAV
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine