Catherine Carnegie, daughter of the Black Sheep of the New York Carnegies, enjoyed the idyllic childhood of wealthy parents. She and her brother Nathaniel attended only the best schools and were cared for by a loving family retainer who made certain they never wanted for anything. However, when Catherine at age eighteen naively asserts her independence, choosing to go to the University of Alabama instead of a northern Ivy League school, her position in the household immediately becomes second-best to her Nat, who has chosen to follow in his father’s footsteps, attending Harvard. And though she has even severely disappointed her beloved grandfather, Catherine holds firm, leaving to attend a southern university to, as she envisions it, become her own version of Scarlett O’Hara.
Thus begins a series of life-changing mistakes Catherine makes in the name of independence that will cause her heart-wrenching regret in her later years. Once at university, Catherine will come under the influence of a friend who urges her to go to work for a secret government agency. In the beginning, the work is glamorous and exciting. Eventually, though, Catherine will accept the assignment that almost destroys her life.
Heavner begins this novel as a reminiscence by Catherine who, at fifty years of age, is looking back on a life of bad choices and regrets. She has become a woman who rarely leaves her house for fear of being “discovered” by the agency she worked for, or of taking an action that will cause them to eliminate her. She is tormented by the loss of the only man she has ever loved, and experiences frequent nightmares of the events of her past. As the story unfolds, Heavner hints at the possibility that Catherine’s salvation may come in the form of a package, the contents of which may free her from her pain, regrets, and grief.
Although Heavner has employed the well-known literary device of telling her story in the style of a memoir, readers may become frustrated with the lack of action in the story, particularly in the early chapters. The story premise is unique and engaging, and many will find it fascinating, though they may become irritated with its obvious craft and editing flaws.