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An enthralling, redemptive novel set in Bangkok in 1972 and Washington, DC, in 2019 about an expatriate child who goes missing, whose family is contacted decades later by a man claiming to be the vanished boy. Washington, DC, 2019: Laura Preston is a reclusive artist at odds with her older sister Bea as their elegant, formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. When a st An enthralling, redemptive novel set in Bangkok in 1972 and Washington, DC, in 2019 about an expatriate child who goes missing, whose family is contacted decades later by a man claiming to be the vanished boy. Washington, DC, 2019: Laura Preston is a reclusive artist at odds with her older sister Bea as their elegant, formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. When a stranger contacts Laura claiming to be her brother who disappeared forty years earlier when the family lived in Bangkok, Laura ignores Bea’s warnings of a scam and flies to Thailand to see if it can be true. But meeting him in person leads to more questions than answers. Bangkok, 1972: Genevieve and Robert Preston live in a beautiful house behind a high wall, raising their three children with the help of a cadre of servants. In these exotic surroundings, Genevieve strives to create a semblance of the life they would have had at home in the US—ballet and riding classes for the children, impeccable dinner parties, a meticulously kept home. But in truth, Robert works for American intelligence, Genevieve finds herself drawn into a passionate affair with her husband’s boss, and their serene household is vulnerable to unseen dangers of a rapidly changing world and a country they don’t really understand. Alternating between past and present as all of the secrets are revealed, What Could Be Saved is an unforgettable novel about a family shattered by loss and betrayal, and the beauty and hope that can exist even in the midst of brokenness.


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An enthralling, redemptive novel set in Bangkok in 1972 and Washington, DC, in 2019 about an expatriate child who goes missing, whose family is contacted decades later by a man claiming to be the vanished boy. Washington, DC, 2019: Laura Preston is a reclusive artist at odds with her older sister Bea as their elegant, formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. When a st An enthralling, redemptive novel set in Bangkok in 1972 and Washington, DC, in 2019 about an expatriate child who goes missing, whose family is contacted decades later by a man claiming to be the vanished boy. Washington, DC, 2019: Laura Preston is a reclusive artist at odds with her older sister Bea as their elegant, formidable mother slowly slides into dementia. When a stranger contacts Laura claiming to be her brother who disappeared forty years earlier when the family lived in Bangkok, Laura ignores Bea’s warnings of a scam and flies to Thailand to see if it can be true. But meeting him in person leads to more questions than answers. Bangkok, 1972: Genevieve and Robert Preston live in a beautiful house behind a high wall, raising their three children with the help of a cadre of servants. In these exotic surroundings, Genevieve strives to create a semblance of the life they would have had at home in the US—ballet and riding classes for the children, impeccable dinner parties, a meticulously kept home. But in truth, Robert works for American intelligence, Genevieve finds herself drawn into a passionate affair with her husband’s boss, and their serene household is vulnerable to unseen dangers of a rapidly changing world and a country they don’t really understand. Alternating between past and present as all of the secrets are revealed, What Could Be Saved is an unforgettable novel about a family shattered by loss and betrayal, and the beauty and hope that can exist even in the midst of brokenness.

30 review for What Could Be Saved

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dorie - Cats&Books :)

    ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** This is a new author for me and I was impressed!!!! This novel is written in a dual timeline as described in the blurb. We are reading back and forth from the family’s time living in Bangkok in 1972 and the present time of 2019 in Washington DC. First timeline we meet the Prestons in Washington D.C. in 2019. Phillip has been missing for over 40 years. Laura is an artist who is struggling to concentrate on her work. Her agent, Sullivan, is trying to get her to focus on s ***HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY*** This is a new author for me and I was impressed!!!! This novel is written in a dual timeline as described in the blurb. We are reading back and forth from the family’s time living in Bangkok in 1972 and the present time of 2019 in Washington DC. First timeline we meet the Prestons in Washington D.C. in 2019. Phillip has been missing for over 40 years. Laura is an artist who is struggling to concentrate on her work. Her agent, Sullivan, is trying to get her to focus on something new, but she states she is caught in a whirlpool, “of the things I half remember, the things I never understood. I think I always kept a little hope that someday Mum would explain at least some of it.” Bea is married with twin teenage boys and she and Laura often don’t get along. Their mother, Genevieve, seems to be slowly sliding into mental decline. She spent many years going back and forth to Asia to try to find Phillip. Laura is contacted by someone who claims to have their brother Phillip. They do a Skype call and that is all that Laura needs to know it’s her brother. She flies to Bangkok and after spending some time with Phillip, brings him home. Bea has been discouraging from the beginning but Laura is not deterred. In the timeline of Bangkkok 1972, we meet the Prestons living in Bangkok for their 4th year of what was supposed to be a one year assignment. Genevieve Preston has grown tired of the wait to return home. They have a beautiful home and three children, Bea, Phillip and Laura. From the blurb you know that Robert is working for American intelligence. Genevieve spends her time planning the children’s schedules for the day, hosting non stop parties and attending parties. She is part of the American expatriate group living behind high walls, set apart from the rest of the city. They have lots of servants and Genevieve is fine with their driver taking the children to and from school, ballet, etc. She is quite removed from them here. They feel as though they are safe but they don’t really understand the country that they are living in, the dark underbelly of the city. How the culture is very different than in America. They will learn the hard way in the loss of a child!!!! These timelines flow together beautifully. There are so many emotions in this book it’s hard to express how much it touched me. I could feel the terrible alarm of a missing child and the anguish that accompanied his loss. Can a family really ever heal after such a trauma?? “What Could Be Saved” of this family? How has each daughter struggled with their loss? Their father was never the same and there are secrets, so many secrets which are finally all revealed in the great ending of this book. It is an eye opening book about drugs, alcohol, sex trafficing and vengence. There is also so much love and desire to heal the family, to become whole again, though in a completely different way. To divulge anymore would ruin the novel. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. It was a page turner and tugged at my heart. The characters are well developed and there are times I disliked many of them and other times when my heart hurt for them. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a character driven mystery/family drama that is beautifully well written. The descriptions of Thailand were so immersive!! This was a great read with DeAnn who also loved it😊 I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.

  2. 5 out of 5

    JanB

    At first glance this had everything I love in a book, most specifically a character-driven saga. However, despite the excellent writing, I struggled and ultimately decided to set it aside. I couldn't maintain interest in the unlikable characters and the story didn't warrant nearly 500 pages. I skipped ahead to the ending and was satisfied with my decision to set it aside. This was buddy read with Marialyce and we were both relieved to hear the other was ready to call it quits. This book is gettin At first glance this had everything I love in a book, most specifically a character-driven saga. However, despite the excellent writing, I struggled and ultimately decided to set it aside. I couldn't maintain interest in the unlikable characters and the story didn't warrant nearly 500 pages. I skipped ahead to the ending and was satisfied with my decision to set it aside. This was buddy read with Marialyce and we were both relieved to hear the other was ready to call it quits. This book is getting a lot of stellar reviews so please read those for a different opinion. My reading seems to be broken these days. Another time and I may have felt differently. *I received a digital copy via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    “We’re less a ‘read between the lines’ family and more a ‘hallucinate something onto this blank sheet of paper’ family.” 1972. The Prestons had lived for several years in Bangkok. The Viet Nam war was raging one country over. Robert was supposedly working for a private company on a dam project that was taking forever. Ummmm, not really. He was working for US intelligence re that nearby conflict. Genevieve was a hostess with the mostess, (She was beautiful, really perfect. A wife for other men “We’re less a ‘read between the lines’ family and more a ‘hallucinate something onto this blank sheet of paper’ family.” 1972. The Prestons had lived for several years in Bangkok. The Viet Nam war was raging one country over. Robert was supposedly working for a private company on a dam project that was taking forever. Ummmm, not really. He was working for US intelligence re that nearby conflict. Genevieve was a hostess with the mostess, (She was beautiful, really perfect. A wife for other men to envy.) having earned a well-deserved reputation for entertaining impressively in their large residence. Beatrice was the oldest, responsible, looked after her younger sibs. Laura is a good kid, although she feels beset by Bea taking advantage of her sometimes, bossing her around. It is clear early on that she has an artistic gift. Phillip is the youngest. Studious. Not an athlete. Gets bullied at school. …how often he felt an onlooker in the company of other men, outside their easy bawdiness and filthy banter. Robert’s otherness had made school, that welter of vicious adolescent boys, a misery before athletics had rescued him, and it bred in his adulthood a certain isolation—men didn’t invite him along when they went to seedy places, or tell him about their adventures there. Robert sees the same otherness in Phillip, so decides to put him into a judo class to toughen him up, maybe give him better tools for defending himself against bigger kids, make him better able than his father to fit in with the males around him. But then, one day, neither parent shows up to bring him home from judo class, and Phillip vanishes. Liese O’Halloran Schwartz - image from her site 2019. Laura Preston, now a professional painter, is contacted by a stranger in Thailand, claiming to be looking for relations of one Phillip Preston. There had been hoax attempts before. Bea, still the bossy one, discourages Laura from pursuing this, but, after seeing the man briefly, on screen, she has a feeling, and dashes off to Bangkok. Could this really be her, their, long-lost brother? Or was it a scam? But if it was him, then where had he been all these years? What had happened to him? Why was he emerging now? Why didn’t he get in touch sooner? The novel is set in (mostly) two times, 1972, when the disappearance occurs and 2019, when this possible Phillip appears. It is told, mostly, from Laura’s perspective. Noi, a young Thai woman who worked for the family in 1972, when she was 15, and who still works for Genevieve in Washington DC, tells some of the story, and the man purporting to be Phillip tells his tale at the end. Schwartz takes us behind the scenes filling in what was going on with Robert and Genevieve at the time. Not exactly the happiest marriage. Gen was having an affair with Robert’s boss. He was finding comfort in the company of a young Thai woman trapped in a demeaning job. Noi is witness to sundry dodginess on the part of the Preston household staff, and gets entangled with a man who is up to no good. Her boss is a bit of a dragon lady. The family returns to the states, although they continue to search for Phillip for quite some time. Schwartz shows us the relationships the characters have with each other. Robert with Genevieve, Genevieve with her lover, Robert with his young companion, Noi with Daeng, her boss in Thailand, Noi with Genevieve, the children, and her nogoodnik boyfriend. Laura’s relationship with Bea is given a lot of attention, and holds some surprises. And we see Laura’s relationship with her long-term boyfriend as an adult. What is, and has been missing is their relationship with Phillip, ever since he disappeared. How can you relate to a mystery? Even if this guy turns out to be Phillip can a few years of childhood build enough of a foundation, create enough of a core, that one could step back in and feel the same connection? “Why do we never, ever tell the truth to each other? Why do we keep so many secrets?” Who doesn’t have secrets? Usually they are small, but sometimes they can be huge. Secrets abound here. Robert’s work is, of course, all about secrets. Genevieve must keep her affair under cover. Bea keeps secrets from Laura, both as a child and as an adult. The children keep secrets from their mother. Laura as an adult is charged with keeping a very large secret that both her parents had kept for a long time. There is even an explanation of a Thai phrase that means someone’s secret was safe. Noi also totes a major secret for decades. The novel looks at the reasons why people keep secrets, which are complex, and diverse, and how secrecy impacts not just one-to-one relationships, but family and community bonds. This is a pretty much straight ahead novel, but there is a bit of magical realism in Noi’s time working in the Preston household, as she is visited by a welcome presence. In addition to the adventure of the story, the mystery, you may pick up a few nuggets of wisdom, such as the proper etiquette for checking for snakes in the toilet, and why it is important for women never to admit that they know how to make coffee. Also, I was hugely impressed by how Schwartz portrays dementia, offering a brilliant, yet very understandable image of how one might experience the loosening of ties to time and memory. One of the best elements of What Could Be Saved is that there are large questions that you will want answers to, and you will keep turning the pages hoping to get there. In a 2018 interview, Schwartz was asked about building suspense in a novel. That’s such a challenge; it is so difficult to know, as the writer, how a story unfolds to the eyes of a fresh reader. Suspense is not just whodunit, of course! It can be super subtle. It’s the element that keeps the reader interested and engaged, wanting to know what happens next. I remember something I heard from an NPR interview with a TV writer: the writer said, when discussing how to write a successful pilot: “Don’t explain ANYTHING at first” and after hearing that, I reviewed some stories that I considered to be very engaging (written and film/TV), and realized that they did that: in the beginning they explained almost nothing, opened up a lot of questions and answered very few. It was really useful advice. My own corollary would be: “When you answer the questions you have raised: answer some soon, some slowly, and some in surprising ways—and always raise new questions as you go.” The “questions” can be tiny or big, some can be answered in the same paragraph in which they are raised, or on the same page, or not be answered until the very end of the story; they all work to keep the reader caring about what’s coming and wanting to read on. - from the 26.org interviewShe knows of what she speaks and has worked that approach deftly to keep us on tenterhooks as she peels back layer after layer, and leaves you thinking. Great, now I know why this, but then why that? And on you speed. While I occasionally found the pace a bit slow, overall I would still categorize this as a page-turner. The major question of is-he-or-isn’t-he will keep you engaged, and the peeling back of the layers hiding the truth offers ongoing satisfaction, as well as a reason to keep reading. Laura is engaging, without being a goody-goody. Some characters undergo meaningful growth, and others are revealed to be more, or less, than they present to the world as their secrets are exposed. They sat for a while longer, two sisters up far past their bedtime, the old house creaking and sighing around them, always in the process of settling, never completely at rest. Review posted – 12/25/2020 Publication date – 1/12/2021 I received an ARE of this book from Atria in return for an honest review. It really is me who wrote this review, not someone pretending to be me. Of course that is just what a copycat would say. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages Interviews -----26.org - The Possible World - re her second book Item of Interest from the author -----Metro - Books: All roads lead to the Rhode- a piece about Rhode Island, where the author did medical training, and the impact of the state’s history of offering sanctuary on her book The Possible World

  4. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    All it took was positive reviews from Jodi Picoult and Lisa See for this book and I was drawn in. Told in dual timelines, it tracks an ex-pat family in Bangkok in 1972 when the son goes missing and the same family in 2019 when they are contacted by someone claiming to have information about the son. The book is well written. But as is often the case with a dual timeline, I found the historic story much more compelling than the present day. Schwarz does an excellent job of giving you a sense of t All it took was positive reviews from Jodi Picoult and Lisa See for this book and I was drawn in. Told in dual timelines, it tracks an ex-pat family in Bangkok in 1972 when the son goes missing and the same family in 2019 when they are contacted by someone claiming to have information about the son. The book is well written. But as is often the case with a dual timeline, I found the historic story much more compelling than the present day. Schwarz does an excellent job of giving you a sense of time and place in 1972 Thailand. We see the insular ex-pat society, their superior airs (down to assigning the servants English names), the red light districts, the distrust on both sides. The characters are not easy to connect with. Everyone has secrets and there are multiple betrayals. There are those who heal and those who never do. The family dynamics are caught in a time warp, with the sisters still struggling to relate to each other. The book is not perfect. It could have been tightened up. It starts slow, but does finish strong. My thanks to netgalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    3.5 rounded to 4 stars This is my first book by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz. It’s a very hard one for me to rate. There is clearly much to praise, but it really did not impress me as much as I would have liked. First the good stuff. This author can write! Her prose is wonderful. Much of the story takes place in Thailand, and she brings the reader right into the streets of that country. I learned in the Acknowledgments that Ms. Schwarz began her life in Thailand, which certainly lends credence to her 3.5 rounded to 4 stars This is my first book by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz. It’s a very hard one for me to rate. There is clearly much to praise, but it really did not impress me as much as I would have liked. First the good stuff. This author can write! Her prose is wonderful. Much of the story takes place in Thailand, and she brings the reader right into the streets of that country. I learned in the Acknowledgments that Ms. Schwarz began her life in Thailand, which certainly lends credence to her portrayal. I enjoyed learning about the culture there—always a plus when I read a book set in a different country. The story spans decades, another thing I like. Family sagas have become a genre I look forward to reading. The plot is intriguing. There is a mystery to unravel as well as the complicated dynamics amongst the characters. Overall the novel delivers a rich narrative. Unfortunately, I never fell in love with any of the characters. There are several that I liked, but none I will likely remember for very long. This particular issue is important to me and the reason why the book loses a star in my eyes. It also gets off to a slow start. I realize the cast must have time to develop, but my lack of a favorite character made the slow burn harder for me to get through. Another demerit is that the narrative jumps around a lot in time and the changes are not clearly marked. Sometimes I was unsure as to even what decade we were in. Overall, this is a very good novel that I suspect many will award 5 stars, but for the personal reasons stated above I have ranked it lower. Considering everything, I do think the book should make Ms. Schwarz proud, and therefore, I am rounding my 3.5 rating up to 4 stars. I do have her novel The Possible World on my TBR list, and l definitely plan to read it. I recommend What Could be Saved for fans of literary fiction, family sagas, and foreign settings. Many thanks to Net Galley, Ms. Maudee Genao of Atria Books, and Ms. Schwarz for allowing me to read an ARC of the book. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Ten stars. Simple Incredible. If you're lucky, you get a handful of books a year where absolutely everything aligns. I finished this book on Christmas Day (about a week and a half ago) and I still am in awe of what I read. As I turned the last page, I sat in stunned silence. The writing, the story, the characters, THAT ENDING...were simply magnificent. There is not one thing I can think of that I would change about this book. It is truly one of the most special reading experiences I ever had...a Ten stars. Simple Incredible. If you're lucky, you get a handful of books a year where absolutely everything aligns. I finished this book on Christmas Day (about a week and a half ago) and I still am in awe of what I read. As I turned the last page, I sat in stunned silence. The writing, the story, the characters, THAT ENDING...were simply magnificent. There is not one thing I can think of that I would change about this book. It is truly one of the most special reading experiences I ever had...and certainly most recently. Since I have finished, I have recommended this to every fiction, family saga, historical fiction book lover I know. So far, every single person has loved it just as much as me. It is PHENOMENAL. If you are looking for a life changing story...this is it. Read it. Thank you to Atria Books, Maudee Genao and Liese O’Halloran Schwartz for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review. Review Date: 01/04/2021 Publication Date: 01/12/2021

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    A long-arc story that spans generations and countries and reveals piles of family secrets. Despite its hefty 464-page length, I finished most of this family drama in a single day. The Preston family moved from Washington, DC to Bangkok during the Vietnam War. When they returned home several years later nothing was the same—not in their country and not in their family, because while in Thailand their eight-year-old son had been kidnapped and was now presumed dead. This story opens with that boy's A long-arc story that spans generations and countries and reveals piles of family secrets. Despite its hefty 464-page length, I finished most of this family drama in a single day. The Preston family moved from Washington, DC to Bangkok during the Vietnam War. When they returned home several years later nothing was the same—not in their country and not in their family, because while in Thailand their eight-year-old son had been kidnapped and was now presumed dead. This story opens with that boy's sister opening an email, a message from Thailand saying, I think I have your brother. Will you come get him? In dual timelines that span 47 years, the story probes the long-held secrets the Preston family members have been keeping, and their devastating consequences.

  8. 4 out of 5

    NZLisaM

    I was completely swept up in this family's lives from the first page to the last. The dismissal of a driver sets in motion a series of overlapping events ending in the tragic disappearance of an eight-year-old boy whose whereabouts will remain unknown for forty-seven years. 9 Soi Nine – A large house in the centre of Bangkok, complete with swimming pool and garden enclosed by a high wall. For the past four years it's been home to an American family of five – Robert and Genevieve Preston and their I was completely swept up in this family's lives from the first page to the last. The dismissal of a driver sets in motion a series of overlapping events ending in the tragic disappearance of an eight-year-old boy whose whereabouts will remain unknown for forty-seven years. 9 Soi Nine – A large house in the centre of Bangkok, complete with swimming pool and garden enclosed by a high wall. For the past four years it's been home to an American family of five – Robert and Genevieve Preston and their three children, Beatrice (12), Philip (8), and Laura (7). Genevieve and her children lead a privileged chauffeured-driven life of parties, socializing, shopping trips, beauty parlours, hair salons, and ballet and judo lessons for the kids. And the running of the household is expertly managed by the Thai servants who cater to their every whim. Yet, Genevieve is dissatisfied with her life, is desperate to return to the States – her husband promised her they'd only be in Asia a year. And Robert has secrets of his own. His wife believes he's involved in a humanitarian project, building a dam in the north of Thailand but he's really there to gather American intelligence regarding the Vietnam War. By the end of that long hot summer of 1972 their son will be gone without a trace. What Could Be Saved saw me taking my time lingering and savouring. It's a slow satisfying burn and I admired every word of the beautiful prose. The heart-breaking story of a family torn apart by grief, loss, betrayal and their own secrets and shame, as well as the eternal bond that exists between siblings no matter how long they've been separated. There are plenty of twists and turns and shocks, and those final chapters left me reeling. The plot followed two timeliness. 2019 sees Laura (now in her early fifties) receiving an email from a stranger saying she has a man with her claiming to be Philip Preston, Laura's missing-for-decades-brother. A subsequent Skype call to verify see's Laura traveling to Bangkok to investigate – a city she hasn't seen since she was seven-years-old. The 1972 plot thread follows the Preston family that fateful summer with multiple POV's including Genevieve, Robert, Laura, Philip, and Noi (a Thai servant girl who worked for the Preston). I liked that Liese O’Halloran Schwarz deliberately withheld the date and details surrounding Philip's disappearance as the most nail wracking and suspenseful part while reading the 1972 flashbacks was wondering when and where he was going to go missing. Almost as tense were the clever ways the author delayed the reveal of an adult Philip revealing what had happened to him the day he vanished and where he'd been for those subsequent years. The Bangkok setting was unique, interesting and fascinating and contained the right balance of beautiful (the culture, architecture, art, food) and seedy (underage prostitution, servants treated no better than slaves, poverty and racism). There's some distressing content but the trance-like narration kept things from ever being too graphic or detailed. Not all the characters were likeable, but their POV's were never dull, and their pain was real and resonating. I will definitely be reading Liese O’Halloran Schwarz's first novel, The Possible World. I read on my kindle, but have since bought myself a physical copy to add to my collection.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    The beginning: .....slow as could be!!!! Long drawn out bickering — between two sisters ( Laura and Bea) and Laura’s uncertainty to marry her boyfriend, of six years, or not. ( cheesy proposal) - but that was the ‘least’ of concerns in this novel. The bickering dialogue about a surprise email which Laura receives from a long lost brother of forty years....goes on too long. Just when I was about ready to toss in the towel from the mystery-tangling-teasing storytelling.... Thinking: “‘What Could Be The beginning: .....slow as could be!!!! Long drawn out bickering — between two sisters ( Laura and Bea) and Laura’s uncertainty to marry her boyfriend, of six years, or not. ( cheesy proposal) - but that was the ‘least’ of concerns in this novel. The bickering dialogue about a surprise email which Laura receives from a long lost brother of forty years....goes on too long. Just when I was about ready to toss in the towel from the mystery-tangling-teasing storytelling.... Thinking: “‘What Could Be Saved’ could not get to the point”... .....the dialogue felt like nails on a chalkboard — annoying... it took an unexpected turn — This novel suddenly got more interesting. Yet... I also immediately knew where the story was going. An American family goes to Bangkok, Thailand - expats - a supposedly adventurous year abroad opportunity for the entire Preston family. Robert had a job offer in Thailand..... one that came with wealthy perks in a county that’s everything but. The Preston couple Robert, and Genevieve, packed their bags and three young children: Bea, Philip, and Laura. They left their Washington D.C. home, and flew to a county of unknowns. The storytelling was definitely best when the Preston family was in Thailand, during the 1970’s.....a time when the country had a reputation for being a hotspot for child prostitution. Yet....this novel teetered between being unevenly paced with its duel timelines - or predictable. I saw exploits of children coming down the pipes a mile away.... and in particular... the devastation of what Philip experienced... and the grief that his entire family endured for another forty years. I appreciate how the author exposed the sinister side of Bangkok— hopefully a side that travelers won’t ever see... but.... perhaps it’s been the impeachment trial competing for my attention... but when I finished the last two chapters... I was glad to be done. 4 worthy stars.... Yet....personally....I was a little detached with my own emotional investment. It’s a powerful story... with vivid images of Thailand .... giving us a great historical mystery thriller perspective.... at the same time... I’m happy to set the book down and move on.

  10. 4 out of 5

    DeAnn

    4.5 family drama/sibling stars -- this one is now available! This is my first read by this author and I was impressed with her writing style! This seemed long, but the pages flew by as I was immersed in the story and anxious to find out what really happened. Big chunks of this book are set in Thailand and I don’t think I’ve read many books with that setting. Robert Preston takes his gorgeous wife Genevieve and their three children to Bangkok in the early 1970s so that he can work on building a dam 4.5 family drama/sibling stars -- this one is now available! This is my first read by this author and I was impressed with her writing style! This seemed long, but the pages flew by as I was immersed in the story and anxious to find out what really happened. Big chunks of this book are set in Thailand and I don’t think I’ve read many books with that setting. Robert Preston takes his gorgeous wife Genevieve and their three children to Bangkok in the early 1970s so that he can work on building a dam. He says it will be just be for one year, so who could resist that adventure? The family is well cared for with a cadre of servants, a swimming pool, and all the pineapple they can eat. Things are not all paradise however, and a tragedy rocks the family to its core. The book then alternates with a modern-day storyline and we flash back in time to get the full picture. Now the daughters are in their 50s and Genevieve is having memory issues. When a mystery from the past crops up, Laura heads to Bangkok to see if she can unravel all the family secrets and restore the family. This one had a stunning conclusion, and I closed the book with a feeling of sadness and relief that things had turned out the way that they did. The author calls it a book about siblings and I definitely see that point, siblings don’t always get along, but strong bonds are formed. The characters are not always likeable in this one, but realistically flawed and this was a great family story. This was a fun buddy read with Dorie! Thank you to Atria Books for the copy of this one to read and review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cheri

    This story alternates in time and place, from 2019 in Washington, DC and Bangkok, Thailand in the 1970s. A story of a family, a mystery - but more than that, it is a story of how the past might return to haunt us. In Bangkok, they were a family of five, Laura and Bea, their brother Philip, and their parents Genevieve and Robert Preston. Living in a grandiose home hidden behind walls, and catered to by servants, they socialized for the most part with others like them. Americans bringing their Ame This story alternates in time and place, from 2019 in Washington, DC and Bangkok, Thailand in the 1970s. A story of a family, a mystery - but more than that, it is a story of how the past might return to haunt us. In Bangkok, they were a family of five, Laura and Bea, their brother Philip, and their parents Genevieve and Robert Preston. Living in a grandiose home hidden behind walls, and catered to by servants, they socialized for the most part with others like them. Americans bringing their American ways to foreign lands, hoping to maintain their way of life, for themselves, and their children. And, for the most part, they are successful. Until one day when Philip doesn’t return from his judo class, and a search for him reveals no trace, no trails to follow. Eventually, they return to the U.S. In America, it is 2019, Laura is an artist in her mid-50’s who receives a message that someone has been trying to reach her. Someone calling about her brother, claiming that they have found Philip. Laura contacts Beatrice to share the news, but Beatrice immediately dismisses this as a hoax, wants nothing to do with it despite some personal information the caller shared. Laura, feeling somehow this will finally reunite their family, flies to Bangkok feeling that she must know the truth, either way. This story builds slowly then escalates to a tightly wound, distressing and disturbing story about the haunting and destructive ways truths withheld may return to haunt the present, the lengths we are willing to go to for another. All the while, a mystery is unraveling slowly and subtly until an astounding ending. Published: 12 Jan 2021 Many thanks for the ARC provided by Atria Books

  12. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce

    Unfortunately, this book and I could not foster a connection. While the concept of the story was intriguing, I just found the story too long and did not like any of the characters. Sometime, in the future, I might pick it up again, since I have seen so many favorable reviews about the story. Thank you to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this story. My book buddy, Jan and I had the same reaction.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    In this family drama, Robert Preston has been sent to Bangkok in 1972 to build a bridge. The bridge project never seems to get off the ground and we eventually learn that building is not his only reason for being in Bangkok. (Exactly what he is doing is always a little hazy in the book.) His wife Genevieve spends her time with a bunch of other expat wives and her lover, while not paying a lot of attention to her three young children Bea, Philip and Laura. The expats have a very callous and imper In this family drama, Robert Preston has been sent to Bangkok in 1972 to build a bridge. The bridge project never seems to get off the ground and we eventually learn that building is not his only reason for being in Bangkok. (Exactly what he is doing is always a little hazy in the book.) His wife Genevieve spends her time with a bunch of other expat wives and her lover, while not paying a lot of attention to her three young children Bea, Philip and Laura. The expats have a very callous and imperious attitude towards the young Thai women whose only choices are to be servants or enter the thriving and exceedingly disgusting sex industry. The Preston family is crushed when 8 year old Philip disappears after his martial arts class. Philip miraculously reappears in 2019. The book flips back and forth between 1972 and 2019. I liked the fact that we are given large chunks of each time period, rather than alternating chapters. However, I much preferred the 1972 story set in Bangkok. It was more atmospheric and definitely had more drama, especially at the end when we finally learn what happened to Philip. The 2019 story is set in Washington DC and mostly consists of Philip’s sisters arguing with each other. Although the 2019 chapters dragged for me, I really wanted to hear Philip’s story and I am glad that I stuck around for it. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    What an amazing book! Wow! Impressive! I had never read anything by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz before but she will be on my radar from now on. I was lucky enough to have won a copy of What Could Be Saved in a goodreads give away and was intrigued immediately by the dual time line and the premises for this book. I have always enjoyed reading books that were centered around a family and their secrets. What Could Be Saved was one of those books. As soon as I started reading this book I was drawn into What an amazing book! Wow! Impressive! I had never read anything by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz before but she will be on my radar from now on. I was lucky enough to have won a copy of What Could Be Saved in a goodreads give away and was intrigued immediately by the dual time line and the premises for this book. I have always enjoyed reading books that were centered around a family and their secrets. What Could Be Saved was one of those books. As soon as I started reading this book I was drawn into the plot and looked forward to getting to know the characters in this book. I felt an instant connection with the characters and felt that they were well developed. The chapters alternated between 2019 (present day) and several years during the 1970’s. Every family had their secrets and in What Could Be Saved the secrets of the Preston family were revealed slowly throughout the course of the book with some twists and reason for speculation. The Preston family presented itself to the outside world as a family that enjoyed the benefits of a warm, involved and predictable environment. Genevieve and Robert Preston were living the American dream. They married young and had all three children fairly quickly. Bea was the oldest, followed by Philip and Laura completed their happy family. Laura and Philip were close in age and therefore shared a special relationship. The family was living in an established neighborhood in a comfortable Tudor home in the Washington D.C. area. Robert had a good job with lots of room for advancement. Then one day, Robert was presented with an opportunity that he found hard to pass up. He was offered the chance to go to Bangkok and work in American intelligence. It was supposed to be a one year commitment but the years stretched into four long years with no end in sight. The life the family had known would be shattered over the course of one random afternoon in 1972. Both Genevieve and Robert had both become so wrapped up in their own lives, secrets and betrayals presented during their day to day lives in Bangkok. Their family would suffer unimaginable consequences as a result. Philip had never come home after his judo lesson. Philip was discovered missing and his disappearance would impact all the Preston’s lives for years to come even as they return to Washington D.C. The Prestons left Bangkok regretting they had never found Philip. Each family member had their own memories of Philip. Philip’s name was rarely mentioned again, though, after they returned to their previous life in Washington D.C. It is now 2019, forty years after Philip had disappeared. Laura was struggling with her life, both as an artist and with her personal life. She was an artist that was struggling to regain her talent she once possessed. Laura had married young for all the wrong reasons and it had ended in divorce. It was hard for her to make commitments now. Although she had a good relationship with Edward, she found it hard to commit. Her older sister Bea and Laura were constantly bickering and at odds with each other. Bea had married and had a good marriage and had teen twin sons. Their once involved, social and elegant mother, Genevieve, had recently been diagnosed with dementia and Robert, their father, had died. One afternoon, her agent, Sullivan, showed up at her Washington home studio under the premise that someone had tried to contact Laura at the Washington Gallery three different times and claimed it had something to do with her brother. The e-mail read, “ I believe I have found your brother Philip. Are you Laura Preston born on 25 March 1965 to Robert and Genevieve Preston? If so, please reply. If you are not the correct Laura Preston, I am sorry for deranging you. Thank you. Claude Bossert.” Laura read the e-mail to her sister, Bea, but Bea being Bea, she was quite skeptical. Bea warned Laura that it might be a scam looking to get money. Laura ended up making arrangements to fly to Bangkok to see for herself if this person could be her brother Philip. What does Laura discover? Is the stranger her brother who disappeared over forty years ago? What Could Be Saved by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz was a thrilling mystery set in a dual time line. It encompassed the themes of family, sibling rivalry, trust, marriageable affairs, sex trafficking, drug abuse, bullying and secrets. It was a well written book during a pivotal time in our country’s history. The roles women lead during the 1970’s were well defined and presented many limitations especially in Bangkok. The descriptions of Bangkok and the Thai people in What Could Be Saved were insightful. Liese O’Halloran Schwarz was able to depict and bring to life the unseen dangers expatriates faced in a country they had little understanding of. The author, expertly revealed all the secrets this family had hidden over the past four decades. Her character development was brilliant as was the plot for this fabulous book. I can’t wait to see what she writes next. I highly recommend What Could Be Saved. Publication for What Could Be Saved is expected for January 12, 2021. Thank you to Simon and Schuster for allowing me to read this advanced readers copy of What Could Be Saved through goodreads in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    What Could Be Saved Compelling, Captivating, fascinating, an intriguing page turner story about a family reunited with their turbulent, unanswered and unresolved history This book is outstanding, exceptional. Well-written. The prose..... the writing.. wow. A 2021 must read. Don't Miss This One Review Posted : 11 Jan 2021 This is scheduled to be release on 12 Jan 2021 Thank You to the publisher Atria Books, Netgalley and the author for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review What Could Be Saved Compelling, Captivating, fascinating, an intriguing page turner story about a family reunited with their turbulent, unanswered and unresolved history This book is outstanding, exceptional. Well-written. The prose..... the writing.. wow. A 2021 must read. Don't Miss This One Review Posted : 11 Jan 2021 This is scheduled to be release on 12 Jan 2021 Thank You to the publisher Atria Books, Netgalley and the author for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kerrin P

    What Could Be Saved is an engaging dual timeline story. In 2019 artist Laura Preston is contacted by a man claiming to be her brother, Philip, who was kidnapped in 1972 when Laura’s family lived in Bangkok, Thailand. Her sister, Bea, thinks it is a scam. Her mother, Genevieve, has dementia and is of no help. Laura’s long-time boyfriend also thinks the man is a con. After a Skype call is abruptly cut off, Laura believes he is Philip. Against everyone’s wishes, she flies to Bangkok to meet him in What Could Be Saved is an engaging dual timeline story. In 2019 artist Laura Preston is contacted by a man claiming to be her brother, Philip, who was kidnapped in 1972 when Laura’s family lived in Bangkok, Thailand. Her sister, Bea, thinks it is a scam. Her mother, Genevieve, has dementia and is of no help. Laura’s long-time boyfriend also thinks the man is a con. After a Skype call is abruptly cut off, Laura believes he is Philip. Against everyone’s wishes, she flies to Bangkok to meet him in person. She is able to get Philip a US passport after a sibling DNA test shows they are related. Laura flies him home, but Philip is extremely ill and does want to talk about his disappearance. The novel then goes back to 1972, when Robert and Genevieve Preston, along with their three young children, Bea, Philip, and Laura, are living in Bangkok. Robert has told everyone he is working on building a new dam, when in fact he works for American Intelligence to aid with the Vietnam War. The family is known for hosting parties on Friday nights. The children are able to meet some of their father’s co-workers at these parties. One of the co-workers doesn’t seem on the up-and-up to Robert, but he and his exotic date make an impression on young Philip. The Prestons have three maids, including Noi who is only 15 years old. Noi is seduced by the family’s driver, who turns out to be married to the oldest maid’s daughter. Philip disappeared when the driver failed to pick him up after a Judo lesson. The family blames the driver, but he is not charged with the crime after Noi gives him an alibi. When the war is over, Noi moves to Washington with the Prestons. The majority of the novel is not about the kidnapping. Instead, the focus is on family relationships, both before and after the abduction. For Genevieve, there is the strain of living in a strange country for four years. She has an adulterous affair with Robert’s superior. She is with her lover when Philip goes missing. Her marriage to Robert is never the same, even though they do not divorce. Genevieve is an absent mother for her two daughters and makes many trips back to Thailand to look for Philip. The relationship between Laura and Bea has been strained for years. When Philip returns, things erupt between the sisters even more. Laura is also dealing with personal commitment issues and her recent inability to produce good paintings. 4-Stars. I would recommend this novel to people who enjoyed Long Bright River. I would not recommend it to my own book club because of the themes of adultery, sex trafficking, and child prostitution. Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley for my advanced reader copy in exchange for my review.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    I have just finished reading What Could Be Saved, by Author Liese O'Halloran Schwarz This is the first book that I have read by this author The book is about an American family who live in Bangkok in the 70’s, however the book takes part as well in Washington DC in 1990. It is in this time that they are contacted by a stranger telling them that their brother who disappeared in the 70’s as a young boy is still alive The family has been seeking the whereabouts of the brother with no results for so m I have just finished reading What Could Be Saved, by Author Liese O'Halloran Schwarz This is the first book that I have read by this author The book is about an American family who live in Bangkok in the 70’s, however the book takes part as well in Washington DC in 1990. It is in this time that they are contacted by a stranger telling them that their brother who disappeared in the 70’s as a young boy is still alive The family has been seeking the whereabouts of the brother with no results for so many years. This is a story that can not be rushed, and has a great deal going on in the lives of the family members. I did enjoy the story, however felt it was a bit on the long side. Thank You to NetGalley, Author Liese O'Halloran Schwarz and Atria Books for my advanced copy to read and review #NetGalley

  18. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    What Could Be Saved is one of those long meaty books. It’s not perfect, bur it’s very much the type of novel I love to sink my teeth in. There are two timelines. In the earlier timeline, in 1972, an American family lives in Bangkok. From the outset, we know that one of the children went missing while they were there. In the later timelines, in 2019, the younger sister, Laura, receives an email suggesting that her brother has been found. The earlier timeline is seen from multiple points of view, What Could Be Saved is one of those long meaty books. It’s not perfect, bur it’s very much the type of novel I love to sink my teeth in. There are two timelines. In the earlier timeline, in 1972, an American family lives in Bangkok. From the outset, we know that one of the children went missing while they were there. In the later timelines, in 2019, the younger sister, Laura, receives an email suggesting that her brother has been found. The earlier timeline is seen from multiple points of view, with everyone caught up in the drama in their own heads. The later timeline is mostly seen from the perspective of Laura, who has lived all these years with the emotional fallout of her brother’s disappearance. The writing is strong. The plotting is intricate. There is a delicious edge of your seat tension to both storylines. And there is a subtle— but not preachy — commentary about colonialism and class. My only real criticism is that I wasn’t very interested in the subplot involving Laura’s melodramatic contemporary relationships. But otherwise it was a good read. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Ideiosepius

    This was a novel that marvellously exceeded all my expectations. It starts with Laura Preston an artist in her fifties, living in Washington struggling to get through... life in general. She has an art style that suits her but which her gallery manager has been trying harder and harder to get her to develop further. She has a fractured family, a bossy older sister Bea and a mother sliding into dementia as Laura struggles with guilts and the past. The family fractured, long ago in Bangkok Thailand This was a novel that marvellously exceeded all my expectations. It starts with Laura Preston an artist in her fifties, living in Washington struggling to get through... life in general. She has an art style that suits her but which her gallery manager has been trying harder and harder to get her to develop further. She has a fractured family, a bossy older sister Bea and a mother sliding into dementia as Laura struggles with guilts and the past. The family fractured, long ago in Bangkok Thailand, while Laura was a child when her brother vanished, never to be found. Then one day Laura is contacted by someone claiming that her brother is still alive. This book was incredibly nuanced in it's character development, in it's delicately balanced plot which initially seemed so straightforward but kept adding surprises and layers to the people and the events. I was utterly engrossed and became more so the further into the story we went. While the individual elements were all ones I was sure I would like - an artist character, Thailand, a mystery of a disappearing child in the East - the story broke all the preconceptions I had about how it might go. I loved the flawed characters! All of them were flawed in different ways and the resulting people felt real and complex and believable. The way their history made them rub against each other, the description of how childhood family patterns developed into set routines that the adult feels helpless to escape - brilliantly done. The anatomy of grief and loss, with it's power to change people and shape their development that was formidably well written and fascinating to read. While the characters were so good that even a cliched mystery would have been highly enjoyable, there was nothing cliched here at all. The story moves back and forward in time a fair bit, from Washington in the 'now' to Bangkok in the 70's where Laura's parents take the family for a year while her father works on a dam. But the year stretches into several years and the beginning of the family collapse is traced to that. The Thai section of the book was pretty large and especially interested me, as I love the country. It describes the Preston's living the ex-pat life, a large house, servants and the complete lack of interest in or integration with the culture that is hosting them. That sort of attitude was all too common among Westerners living in the Asia Pacific and it was well written. Here too, the authors strength was in the characters! The Thai background of individual characters seemed well researched and as Thai characters continue through the book it wove in a constancy to the plot rather than just feeling like something that happened 'in the past'. Well, I can't really do justice to how well written this book is or how much I enjoyed reading it. For a great novel, with an enthralling mystery, nuanced characters and a strong sense of Asia, I would suggest you read it for yourselves. I want to thank Allen & Unwin for this Advance Reading copy in return for an honest opinion, and once again my honest opinion was so easy to give.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    Alright so I’m disappointed and definitely in the minority. I’m all for literary fiction but there was something I couldn’t get into with this book. It’s told in present day and past day, explaining how Laura and Bea’s brother went missing. A stranger in Thailand contacts Laura claiming to be their brother Phillip and she flies off to go meet with him. There are way too many characters and we even hear the point of view from the parents and I just really lost interest after part one. I gained in Alright so I’m disappointed and definitely in the minority. I’m all for literary fiction but there was something I couldn’t get into with this book. It’s told in present day and past day, explaining how Laura and Bea’s brother went missing. A stranger in Thailand contacts Laura claiming to be their brother Phillip and she flies off to go meet with him. There are way too many characters and we even hear the point of view from the parents and I just really lost interest after part one. I gained interest again later but then I lost it pretty quickly. The premise is interesting enough but there are so many unnecessary details through out the book. It’s almost 500 pages and really did not need to be this long. I think it would’ve benefited shaved off 100 pages but maybe that’s just me since again, I’m in the minority. I do think that Schwarz did really well character development and knows how to tie together a story but this one just didn’t work for me. I won this from a giveaway so I do have a physical copy but this was also given as an arc from Netgalley. Thank you so much to Netgalley, Atria books, and Goodreads for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    MaryBeth's Bookshelf

    To say I loved this book would be an understatement. I devoured this book. I inhaled this book. It grabbed me from the first sentence and didn't let me go until the dramatic end. Despite its size the pages flew by for me. You can't help but sympathize with the characters as they attempt to navigate the devastation heaped upon them by forces outside their control. All the stars and love to this powerful read. Thank you @bibliolifestyle and @atriabooks for the review copy. To say I loved this book would be an understatement. I devoured this book. I inhaled this book. It grabbed me from the first sentence and didn't let me go until the dramatic end. Despite its size the pages flew by for me. You can't help but sympathize with the characters as they attempt to navigate the devastation heaped upon them by forces outside their control. All the stars and love to this powerful read. Thank you @bibliolifestyle and @atriabooks for the review copy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ʚϊɞ Shelley's ʚϊɞ Book Nook

    When I started this literary novel, I was hooked from the beginning. The storyline is intriguing, even though it's also sad and shocking at times, and it made me want to keep reading. There are some slow parts but I felt the story flowed nicely. There are many flashback scenes that help us gain a better understanding of the well-developed characters. This book is about healing and learning to process your past and how it effects you now. The writing is stunning and overall, I enjoyed this novel When I started this literary novel, I was hooked from the beginning. The storyline is intriguing, even though it's also sad and shocking at times, and it made me want to keep reading. There are some slow parts but I felt the story flowed nicely. There are many flashback scenes that help us gain a better understanding of the well-developed characters. This book is about healing and learning to process your past and how it effects you now. The writing is stunning and overall, I enjoyed this novel and am happy I chose to read it. It's a story of being confronted with your past and learning to deal with it so you can move on. It was slow-moving at times but mostly enjoyable so I recommend reading it simply for the wonderful writing alone. Oh and the phenomenal cover...stunning! Disclousure: Thank you NetGalley, Liese O'Halloran Schwarz and Atria Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own. #NetGalley

  23. 5 out of 5

    Camie

    I was thoroughly entranced by this work of literary fiction which follows the Prestons an expatriate family whose patriarch takes them to live in Bangkok in 1972 causing them to be swept up into the culture of a country which they don’t understand. When their young son goes missing and then returns years later the story begins to unfold and the mysteries of the family’s fascinating history are at last revealed. This is my first read by this author, but one that I highly recommend. Read as an ARC I was thoroughly entranced by this work of literary fiction which follows the Prestons an expatriate family whose patriarch takes them to live in Bangkok in 1972 causing them to be swept up into the culture of a country which they don’t understand. When their young son goes missing and then returns years later the story begins to unfold and the mysteries of the family’s fascinating history are at last revealed. This is my first read by this author, but one that I highly recommend. Read as an ARC / due out in Jan 2021. 5 stars

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    What a well done novel! The plot covers two timelines. One tells the story of an American family living in Thailand during the early 70's, and the other is the story of the family in present day USA. There are many wonderful scenes, revelations and human interactions in each setting. However, this novel is really about families: parents and their strengths and weaknesses (which we don't always understand until we are older); siblings and the pull and tug between them; living a life separate from What a well done novel! The plot covers two timelines. One tells the story of an American family living in Thailand during the early 70's, and the other is the story of the family in present day USA. There are many wonderful scenes, revelations and human interactions in each setting. However, this novel is really about families: parents and their strengths and weaknesses (which we don't always understand until we are older); siblings and the pull and tug between them; living a life separate from your family; and the incredible strength of familial love, even with all its ups and downs. Ms. Schwarz writes beautifully. She uses the setting in Thailand particularly well- - but it was the familial relationships that make the book what it is. This was a novel that pulled me in and kept me there, waiting to see what happened next to the characters I came to care about. It has been a while since I read such a pleasurable book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Beverly

    Wow! I just finished this manuscript and am just reeling from that ending! This book is absolutely phenomenal. It drew me in from the very beginning and wouldn’t let go! When the Preston children, Bea, Phillip, and Laura, were young, they lived in Bangkok for several years. Phillip went missing during that time and the rest of the family eventually went back to America. Now, Laura is in her 50’s and a woman contacts her claiming she has her brother. Laura travels back to Bangkok to see if it’s r Wow! I just finished this manuscript and am just reeling from that ending! This book is absolutely phenomenal. It drew me in from the very beginning and wouldn’t let go! When the Preston children, Bea, Phillip, and Laura, were young, they lived in Bangkok for several years. Phillip went missing during that time and the rest of the family eventually went back to America. Now, Laura is in her 50’s and a woman contacts her claiming she has her brother. Laura travels back to Bangkok to see if it’s really him, and to bring him home if so. Going back and forth through time, eventually many secrets are revealed about what happened so many years ago in Bangkok. The narration is striking and moves easily and swiftly. I love Laura. She is so wry and sarcastic in her thoughts. It had me laughing out loud multiple times, even though it is a more serious book overall. And I loved the time spent exploring Bangkok with the rich and vivid descriptions. The title of the book, which I was a bit perplexed by at the beginning, has so much meaning and thought behind it that is revealed in the end. What Could Be Saved and the feeling I had while reading it will stay with me a very, very long time. Highly, highly recommended when it comes out next year!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aga Durka

    I absolutely loved this book! This book had all the things I enjoy the most in my novels: historical fiction, family saga, and character driven stories. The Thailand setting for this story was just a “cherry on top” for me. The writing style was superb, the narration moved smoothly, and the plot never let my interest go. This is my second book by this author, and I have rated both books with 5 stars, which means that I have a new favorite author! Thank you NetGalley, Atria Books, and the author f I absolutely loved this book! This book had all the things I enjoy the most in my novels: historical fiction, family saga, and character driven stories. The Thailand setting for this story was just a “cherry on top” for me. The writing style was superb, the narration moved smoothly, and the plot never let my interest go. This is my second book by this author, and I have rated both books with 5 stars, which means that I have a new favorite author! Thank you NetGalley, Atria Books, and the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sarah at Sarah's Bookshelves

    [4.25 stars] What Could Be Saved is a crowd-pleasing family drama with some elements that make it stand out from the plethora of family dramas out there (Bangkok setting, a spy element). It has a bit of a mystery, though the mystery is not the forefront of the story. The story is told in a dual timeline: 1970’s Bangkok leading up to Phillip’s disappearance and present day when Phillip resurfaces. Despite its length, it reads quickly and easily and is the kind of book you want to fly through. It h [4.25 stars] What Could Be Saved is a crowd-pleasing family drama with some elements that make it stand out from the plethora of family dramas out there (Bangkok setting, a spy element). It has a bit of a mystery, though the mystery is not the forefront of the story. The story is told in a dual timeline: 1970’s Bangkok leading up to Phillip’s disappearance and present day when Phillip resurfaces. Despite its length, it reads quickly and easily and is the kind of book you want to fly through. It has the feeling of a vacation novel (i.e. multiple people living in the same house living with secret parts of their lives that all impact what happened to Phillip). But, no one family or staff member knows all the pieces to be able to put them together. It’s part expose of American expat life in Bangkok (including how badly this family treats their household help) and it gets into the underbelly of Bangkok. My one gripe is the ending is a little slow and gets overly philosophical. Overall, it reminded me of The Most Fun We Ever Had & The Last Romantics (including lots of adult sibling dynamics).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Frosty61

    While not a fan of alternating timelines, I stuck this one out in order to solve the mystery of the young boy who went missing in 1972. It's a slow, slow burn. Overall, it's more a tale about family relationships than a mystery, but his disappearance serves as the catalyst for the examination of the family dynamic. There were parts that I liked, but a lot that I didn't. There's an undercurrent of menace that the author skillfully weaves into the story. The characters are developed in depth, but n While not a fan of alternating timelines, I stuck this one out in order to solve the mystery of the young boy who went missing in 1972. It's a slow, slow burn. Overall, it's more a tale about family relationships than a mystery, but his disappearance serves as the catalyst for the examination of the family dynamic. There were parts that I liked, but a lot that I didn't. There's an undercurrent of menace that the author skillfully weaves into the story. The characters are developed in depth, but none are very likeable. The relationships are confusing at times and the dialogue seems sparse and wooden in places. Bouncing back and forth between 1972 and 2019, there's much time when nothing seems to happen, when, in reality, some of the events are crucial. It takes a long time before the truth about Philip's disappearance is revealed. At that point the tone of the story becomes very, very dark and difficult to read. In the end the love of the siblings and parents comes through, but it was a little late for me to care much. Others rave about it - I was hoping I'd be one of them. Onward...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    A captivating novel about the Prestons, an American family living in Bangkok in 1972, when one of their number goes missing — Philip, then age eight, and then the remaining Prestons in Washington, DC in 2019 when they are contacted by a man who claims to be Philip Preston. Having discovered Schwarz through her previous novel The Possible World, I was excited to revisit her possibilities with a new release. What Could Be Saved did not disappoint. The thoughtfulness for the story, the same relatab A captivating novel about the Prestons, an American family living in Bangkok in 1972, when one of their number goes missing — Philip, then age eight, and then the remaining Prestons in Washington, DC in 2019 when they are contacted by a man who claims to be Philip Preston. Having discovered Schwarz through her previous novel The Possible World, I was excited to revisit her possibilities with a new release. What Could Be Saved did not disappoint. The thoughtfulness for the story, the same relatability in her characters with their layers of truth, and her clear understanding for how to connect these two elements together properly for an organic combination in a moving, family drama was here once again from this author. I will definitely be watching out for what's to come next from Schwarz. However lovingly this novel was pieced together, I do think it could've stood a little paring down overall. It was just a touch too long. In its longer segments especially was where I found myself tiring of the current narrative and narrator just enough to consider to putting the book down right before Schwarz changed it up, and I'd feel the relief of either returning to the other timeline or finding myself with another narrator. But that really is a small matter, because I could not put the book down. It called to me. It's not even that I really identified with any one of the characters over any other — in fact, some were quite annoying or clearly dislikable in their all too human ways — but not only did I have to know what happened, I had to know how the family was doing. Between Bangkok 1972 and Washington, DC 2019, we have a novel that is both family drama and a tense and heartbreaking mystery. With a carefully paced unfolding, Schwarz tells this story with so much consideration and attention, that there were times I was deceived by my head into thinking some part was unnecessary, only to be proven wrong later in the book. For instance, I couldn't get past for a while how unneeded the father felt as one of the narrators, because there are so many narrators. And then late in the story, there was a moment when my brain clicked with how exactly he fit. In fact, giving them all a voice is essential for this story — not necessarily for what they say, but for what they bring to their portion and how they are a piece of the family as a whole. Schwarz gives them a life, even if it's not the life they think they would've otherwise had. I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This affected neither my opinion of the book, nor the content of my review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lolly K Dandeneau

    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ “𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐁𝐞𝐚, 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐢𝐦,” 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝. “𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬?” “𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬𝐧’𝐭,” 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫. “𝐈𝐭 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬.” Take an American family 1972, living in their own private paradise in Bangkok, it’s not long before the threats of the country they are in soil their own perfect little world, unraveling the family for decades to come. What violence lies dormant in one’s own heart, until you are truly tested? Robert Preston has brought his wife Genevieve and their three via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/ “𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐁𝐞𝐚, 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐢𝐦,” 𝐬𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝. “𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐬?” “𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬𝐧’𝐭,” 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫. “𝐈𝐭 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐢𝐬.” Take an American family 1972, living in their own private paradise in Bangkok, it’s not long before the threats of the country they are in soil their own perfect little world, unraveling the family for decades to come. What violence lies dormant in one’s own heart, until you are truly tested? Robert Preston has brought his wife Genevieve and their three children (Laura, Bea and Phillip) with him to Thailand while he helps his firm build a dam, with Maxwell Dawson in charge. A dam, she notices, that seems to be taking longer than it should. Missing the comforts of their life back home, they do their best to maintain structure with ballet and riding classes, parties, servants and drivers whose lives are full of hard work and crisis. Noi accompanies the girls, never knowing the joys and freedoms afforded the Preston’s children, her character serves to show the divide between their worlds, as too does the driver. Phillip wants nothing more than to take Judo, but fitting in with the boys isn’t what he expected. Genevieve doesn’t realize that her husband works for American Intelligence, never deeply questioning Robert’s cover story, and her mind is distracted by her own affairs, particularly with his boss. In this illicit affair, she isn’t paying attention, neither of them are, when their son Phillip fails to come home. Washing DC, 2019 Laura and Bea never knew what really happened to Phillip. Their father has passed away, their mother is declining from dementia, and in the forty years since Phillip’s vanishing there has been no answers. The happy family they had been, the one Laura remembers, feels as real as fantasy. Escaping the world through her art, she is surprised to learn emails she hasn’t checked are from a stranger named Claude Bossert claiming to have found her brother. Immediately she calls her big sister Bea, who tries to convince her to delete it, that it is likely just a scam for money, something they knew all too well about with their mother’s endless quests to find him. Laura wonders if it could be possible, after all this time, with a Skype call she sees the grown man who, she later tells her partner Edward, “looked like daddy.” Bea isn’t as convinced but Laura finds herself on a flight back to Bangkok that will shed light on all the deep, dark secrets, the lies of her parent’s past and the truth about what happened to Phillip. Her partner thinks this is just an excuse to escape his pressing question about their future together, but the past is unsettled, if it is Phillip, it changes everything. This is a story that proves you can’t remain untouched by the country you live in, that even when you’re trying to make a difference, it’s the things you aren’t protecting against that take you down. Much like the Thai proverb the author shared before the start of the novel, “Bad seven times, good seven times,” so too are the characters within this enthralling tale. Who are the bad guys? There is no end to abuses in Bangkok, adults and children alike, things that would make the devil blush. Justice is a double edged sword, their father is well aware of that. How much do we accept the whole truth, when it mars the beliefs about those we cherish and love most? One thing is certain, what happened to Phillip is nothing like they imagined but will the hard truth change anything, in the end? A riveting tale about one family’s descent into tragedy that changes their future forever. Yes, read it! Publication Date: January 12, 2021 Atria Books

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