Former lovers who meet years later by chance in a London gallery is the backbone of Mary Waters-Sayer’s The Blue Bath. The novel outlines the life of Kat Lind, an American living in London with her successful husband and her young son. Kat seems to have everything she ever wanted; a husband that loves her, a son she adores, and the secure life that only money is generous enough to provide.
Her tidy and orderly world is shaken when she meets her former lover, Daniel Blake while attending an opening for his artwork. The paintings in the exhibit are predominantly, to Kat’s shock and surprise, portraits of her when she was a young student in Paris living with Daniel.
While Kat is horrified to think that someone might recognize her face in the portraits and reveal this to her husband, she becomes seduced by the notion of seeing Daniel again. Of course this will make her question what she really wants.
The Blue Bath is written in time shifts between the present in London and Kat and Daniel’s past in Paris. The jumps are not confusing, but rather it is Kat’s many absurd and impulsive decisions that make us do a double take. She comes across as an immature and foolish woman, who hasn’t quite shed her rich preppy girl persona and makes decisions she later doesn’t want to take responsibility for.
As we learn the reason that compelled Kat to abruptly leave Daniel and Paris in the first place and the truth of why she bailed on their life together, any sympathy we feel for her withers. It becomes clear that her selfishness and lack of communication caused needless suffering. Strangely, we end up feeling more sympathetic towards Daniel than Kat, because at least he always shows his true colors.
Mary Water-Sayers’ The Blue Bath is a good attempt at presenting a story about former lovers meeting years later, and the consequences that uncoil from that newfound connection. The prose is lovely and the narrative succeeds in adequately captivating the reader’s attention. But this attempt is all for naught when the main character fails to get us in her corner, particularly at the end of the novel, leaving us to conclude that Daniel was actually very lucky that Kat left him in the first place.