Fateful Decisions starts with the WWI sinking of the Lusitania. On board are two young women: Rachel Williams and her best friend, Martha Manning. They meet two men, Fred Johnson and Rudy Holzmann. Rachel’s decision to marry one of the men is the beginning of a family saga that takes place over two generations and, Forrest Gump-style, encompasses every misfortune and historical event from 1912 to 1946.
Over the years, from the betrayal of her husband, to his and her daughter’s death, to the kidnapping of her son, Rachel is touched by tragedy. Her friend Rudy is always there by her side. It is not until the end of the story that Rudy’s importance is revealed. Other characters seemingly unrelated to Rachel pop up several times. Pierre and Annette leave France and travel to California where Pierre gets mixed up in smuggling wine. They adopt a daughter and take her back to France. Their daughter, Catherine, becomes involved in the French Resistance and meets Martha Manning’s son. Meanwhile in New York, Rachel meets a hotel magnate and decides to marry him. Before the marriage, the stock market falls and he commits suicide. Later, Rachel’s son is in the navy at Pearl Harbor when it is bombed. The narration goes back and forth in time, turning to other characters and their lives until the story finally weaves its way to conclusion.
The writing style was distracting at times. The exposition is simple, almost child-like, with very little description of scenes, almost no use of contractions, and unnecessary details of movement from one action to another. Most of the story and character development is told through dialogue. In spite of the sometimes stifled narration, this story has plenty of action, moves quickly, and kept me turning pages until the end.