The Stash by Sandra Sperling

Don’t we all fantasize about stumbling upon a huge stash of cash? After Sarah Altman does exactly that, she hatches a complicated plan—both for concealing the money and what she’ll eventually do with it. She’s an unhappily married woman who is able to reinvent herself after her windfall. To tell you this does little to impart the tour de force of The Stash. It’s both serious and comical; both character and plot-driven.

Sarah and Frank (an ex-boyfriend slowly reinserting himself into her life) are both realistically portrayed, though, at times, super-human. Sarah’s a near superhero: she’s tough-minded and more than capable when it comes to self-defense. “Her shoes accurately reflected her personality: practical, uncompromising and virtually impervious to outside influences.” Frank’s super-human in a different way: his passionate and vulnerable nature allow him to tune into a previously unknown psychic side—at least when it comes to Sarah. What’s curious is that he hasn’t a clue that a former girlfriend—Lynn from his past—is Sarah. I kept wondering if he would ever realize this. My curiosity about this as well as other issues grew along with the tension.

I lost count of the comical scenes and situations. Sperling, adept at descriptions, writes this of a woman who Frank’s mother has set him up with: “She stood in front of him, the bright tangerine roses on the bodice of her dress rising and falling rapidly. She rubbed the nicotine patch on her arm and popped a piece of gum in her mouth, chewing viciously. She reminded him of a timber wolf devouring a deer carcass.” What a strong and funny mental picture this creates!

Similar to Elisabet’s Will, the first novel I’ve read by Sterling, we follow a rich cast of characters, as they go about their daily lives. Both novels beautifully depict Sisu—the strength of the human will. However, it’s amped up in Sarah. As I flipped the pages of The Stash, I kept wondering what would happen to reveal a crack in Sarah’s armor. Not to give a spoiler alert: life proves to be a leveler. I really came to care for the characters here and can well-imagine a sequel. Great storytelling! As in the case of the earlier novel, justice is served and the ending is tremendously satisfying!

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