The first thing you should know about Robbie is that she's dead. She died in a car accident in New York - a hit and run - crossing the street one February afternoon to buy more Diet Coke. She really loved Diet Coke. Couldn't function without it. And she was never the type of girl to cross at a street corner.
I picked up Innocence by Kathleen Tessaro in the Italian translation at the library. I was immediately captured by its blue cover, because blue covers appeal to me in some strange way. (The Italian cover looks nothing like the English one; if I had seen the original cover, I probably wouldn't have felt the need to read this book, and I would have missed out on a great read).
The main character in Innocence is Evie Garlick, an aspiring actress who moves from Eden, Ohio to London, England in order to study theater. It's 1986, and Evie soon moves in with two other girls and colleagues from drama school: Imogen (fan of Laura Ashley and frustrated virgin) and Robbie (New Yorker, bohemien, and not virginal at all). Evie is young and talented, and feels that everything is possible for her... until love intervenes.
It's 2001, and Evie is a single mother in her early thirties who teaches drama to night students and lives with the eccentric Bunny and some other artists. Robbie is dead, killed in a car accident. Evie has abandoned her dreams of becoming an actress and tries to make ends meet. Until an old friend from her past comes back to haunt her.
I liked this book very much. The mixture of events from 1986 and 2001 is very well-done, and gives credibility to the story. The character of Robbie is unforgettable. In the prologue, she is described like this, and I think these sentences will stay with me for a long, long time:
There's an art to life. Some people have a talent for them. A boundless hope illuminates them. While others are vague and tentative, they have only sharp, clear edges. Energy soars; light burns brighter when they enter a room.
And that's the other thing you should know about Robbie.
She had that knack in spades.