What would you do if you were approached one day by a total stranger who claimed to have evidence of something that went against everything you believed in? What if that something was of vital importance to the well-being of your child? Such is the scenario faced by Bill and Janice Templeton in the book “Audrey Rose” by Frank De Felitta.
The story, written in 1975, focuses on the conflict between the Templeton family and Elliot Hoover. Bill and Janice Templeton are an everyday couple living in New York City with their daughter Ivy. Bill holds a decent job, Janice is a stay-at-home mom, and Ivy goes to school. The humdrum of their everyday lives is interrupted by Elliot Hoover, a seeming vagrant with a profound interest in their daughter. The Templetons remain rightfully wary of Mr. Hoover until the shocking truth behind his interest is revealed-He believes their daughter is the reincarnation of his own, Audrey Rose, who had died in a car crash many years prior. Initially rejecting his notion, as time passes they become aware of subtleties of behavior in their daughter that point toward the possibility that Elliot Hoover may be right.
The book is written a little strangely. It can be divided into two halves- The first half reads like a thriller, with events happening at a rapid pace, leaving the reader guessing as to what will happen next. After this portion reaches a climax of sorts, the second part of the book turns into a drawn out court drama. Because of this, some people may find the book a difficult read. Events in the first part do tie in to the second part, of course, though in many instances it takes a while for them to do so. The book is written from the viewpoints of the various characters and how their beliefs shape their stances toward each other and the unique problem that Mr. Hoover brings to light, so it has a bit of a psychological drama feel to it; indeed, the psychologies of the characters becomes a large part of the conflict as each of them grapple with the impossible prospect Hoover proposes in his or her own way. Because of this, the characters are very well written and memorable. The author is a bit heavy handed however, when it comes to other parts of the story. His use of foreshadowing is blunt and often comes at the expense of the fourth wall; later in the story, the author will use this technique to surprise the reader by nearly contradicting his earlier foreshadowing in the course of the story only to see them realized later … but these are not true plot-twists. As one might guess, the subject matter of reincarnation as been heavily researched by the author, and it shows! The second half of the book becomes particularly interesting because of this, though there is a part in the first half concerning computers that seems unbelievable considering the technology available at the time the book is written (and supposedly set in).