Things We Nearly Knew by Jim Powell


My book club’s chosen read for June was Things We Nearly Knew, the latest novel by Jim Powell. The premise for this book was one that sounded appealing to me, with events surrounding around a bar on the edge of a small town, and the secrets held by the clientele who drink there.

The bar in question is owned and run by the narrator and his wife, Marcie, who have been married for thirty years. The implication to this is that after three decades there must be no secrets left between the two of them. But as the plot develops we learn that this may not be the case, as we explore aspects of human life, and question whether anyone truly knows anyone else, no matter how close they may feel. But it is not only the details of the narrator’s life that we uncover over the course of this story, as we get a glimpse at the lives of those people who frequent the local bar, people who become familiar faces, people that are well known yet leave so much still to be revealed about themselves. One such customer, a woman by the name of Arlene, stops by and makes quite an impression. Not much is known about Arlene, aside from her name, and where she may have come from, though that is unclear. There is also the fact that she is in search of a man named Jack, with whom the nature of their relationship is also a mystery…

I found this book to be a compelling read, which was well plotted to keep up the intrigue as we piece together details from the lives of these characters, and the impact that they have on each other. I liked the fact that it was narrated by a bar owner, someone well known in the community who has the opportunity to see locals come and go, and an understanding of the dynamics between them. He reflects on his own life and marriage, as well as what he knows of those regulars who frequent his premises. And the enigmatic Arlene is a key part to their collective story, and I read on with interest to see what could be uncovered about Arlene, her relationship to the mysterious Jack, and what lay ahead for her. As secrets begin to unravel, with more long buried revelations brought to the surface, the story raises some interesting themes in relation to love and relationships and how much we really know about the people we love. The narrator offers some interesting observations of human interactions as he reflects on life, the pain it can bring, and what we leave behind.

Things We Nearly Knew is an intriguing and compelling read which uncovers the secrets of a small town which made for a gripping read, and one which leaves plenty to ponder over long after you turn the final page.

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