A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison


source: Free review copy courtesy of Library Thing
title: A Small Indiscretion
author: Jan Ellison Twitter
published: Random House (January 20, 2015)
genre: fiction
pages: 318
first line: London, the year I turned twenty.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars writewritewritewrite

At nineteen, Annie Black trades a bleak future in a washed-out California town for a London winter of drinking and abandon. Twenty years later, she is a San Francisco lighting designer and happily married mother of three who has put her reckless youth behind her. Then a photo from that distant winter in Europe arrives inexplicably in her mailbox, and an old obsession is awakened.

Past and present collide, Annie’s marriage falters, and her son takes a car ride that ends with his life hanging in the balance. Now Annie must confront her own transgressions and fight for her family by untangling the mysteries of the turbulent winter that drew an invisible map of her future. Gripping, insightful, and lyrical, A Small Indiscretion announces the arrival of a major new voice in literary suspense as it unfolds a story of denial, passion, forgiveness—and the redemptive power of love.

my thoughts:
I found A Small Indiscretion to be a quiet and intense novel centered around a woman whose actions in her youth continue to carry on into her adulthood and affect not only herself, but her loved ones also.

The story goes to and from past and present as you are drawn into Annie Black’s life. Author Jan Ellison slowly drew me in, I did not know where Annie’s story was going but I wanted to find out.

Annie is a married mother whose son is in a horrible car accident and is in a medically induced coma when she begins to write down her story, which is essentially a confession, for him.

I didn’t particularly care for Annie but I felt bad for her at times especially because her son is near death. I am not a fan of infidelity, so I am weary when reading books centering on this topic, but some stories just beg to be read and discussed. This is one of them. Beautifully written and even insightful, I found myself drawn in.

I tried to remember that half a lifetime of knowing each other, and loving each other, still rested between us. It was right there, in the air, a whole history of standing side by side, facing the world.
p.302, A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

I did not like the men in Annie’s life, Malcolm and Patrick. Malcolm is her married boss and she comes to know Patrick through him. I found Malcolm to be presumptuous and I wondered why she wouldn’t just disassociate herself from him. Patrick needed a lot of growing up to do. Relationships can be messy and make people crazy even, and that is what you see here.

I was making love, I think; he was taking what I made.
p.112, A Small Indiscretion

The theme of forgiveness is woven throughout the story and as I read, I couldn’t help but think that Annie’s husband Jonathan should not forgive her infidelity and lies. I really felt like she took it too far. Although you only know Annie’s story, not much of Jonathan’s.

I felt like Annie just let things happen to her without her taking hold of her life. Her character was weak in this way.

I enjoyed Ellison’s writing style and found myself riveted, especially towards the end of the book. Annie travels to India, London and Paris and as I read I could easily envision the sights and sounds of these places.

It has been a while since an author has blind sighted me. I was stunned at the events unfolding and I read wide eyed and riveted during certain parts. Although the twists and turns made sense, I did not see them coming.

A Small Indiscretion is a beautifully written piece of fiction that left me feeling pensive and even a bit drained after I turned the final page.

about the author: (quoted from amazon)

Jan holds an MFA from San Francisco State University. Her essays about
parenting, travel and writing have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Writers Digest and elsewhere. Her short fiction has received numerous awards, including the O. Henry Prize for her first published story. A California native, Jan grew up in L.A. and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband of twenty years and their four children.


Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free review copy of A Small Indiscretion via Library Thing.

11 thoughts on “A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

  1. Great commentary on this book.

    I also find infidelity a disturbing subject. I do believe that one role that art plays is to reflect some of the dark sides of the world. It also must, at times show us flawed characters.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Naida,

    This probably isn’t a book I would be rushing out to buy, as I don’t read an awful lot of contemporary fiction, although I appreciate your thoughtful and considered review.

    I was particularly surprised that, given the infidelity issues raised in the storyline of ‘A Small Indiscretion’, author Jan Ellison has herself, been happily married for over twenty years. She certainly hasn’t based this story on any of her own experiences 🙂

    Thanks for sharing and have a great weekend 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad I read this one too. It hit on several areas I’m not particularly found of reading about and yet it was done in such a way that I couldn’t stop reading. I had to know more. I agree with you about Annie seeming to just let life happen to her instead of taking a more active role, especially in her early years. And the writing is indeed beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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