This is a tale of a family, a Martha's Vineyard society kind of family, starting with the end of WWII and moving on through the late 60s. The first third of the book is dominated by Nick, a controlling young woman who has married who she was supposed to marry, and hasn't had a happy day since. She does what she must while yearning for other things (and other men), and produces the required child, Daisy. Then a murder in the the community shakes things up, for everyone.
Next we hear from Helena, Nick's cousin, though really like a sister to her, gets her say. Her first husband died in the war shortly after their marriage, and when we meet her, she is on her way to Hollywood to marry her second husband, a filmmaker. It doesn't take her long to find that he is actually a grifter and is obsessed with a dead actress. Helena drifts into alcohol and drugs, taking a short break to have a baby to see if that would improve her marriage. It didn't, and she finds her son to be rather strange and frightening, so once more she moves into the arms of booze and drugs. She is visiting her cousin in Martha's Vineyard the summer of the murder, and it was in fact her son Ed and Nick's daughter Daisy who find the mutilated body. Sunny Daisy comes through it well, but Ed seems to get even more strange and worrisome. Helena's resentment of Nick begins to grow in to a complicated hate.
Hughes, Nick's husband, takes over the story for a bit, offering fresh perspective on things already known, as well as some secrets of his own. Then Ed get's his turn, finishing the book with the stark confirmation and clarification of so many of the doubts and mysteries the whole family has held for 25+ years.
This is not a cheerful book in any way. However, the writing is mesmerizing, with crisp dialog that makes you feel as if you are right there with the characters, and drives you to turn page after page into the wee hours of the morning. This is a debut novel, and a very impressive one. I'll be eagerly looking for more from Klaussmann in the future.
Jackie Blem started this discussion 1 year ago. ( | permalink )