Moira Forsyth, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $23.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-312-27873-1

In her debut novel, a meticulous examination of the present significance of past loss, Scottish poet and short-story writer Forsyth explores the relationships between siblings and cousins, parents and children, and husbands and wives. Beautiful, brazen Lindsay was 13 when she walked away from her brothers Jamie and Tom and her cousins Alistair and Annie, who were playing on a Black Isle beach; she never returned. It was the defining moment of their lives, and now, 34 years later, when Alistair's runaway teenage son Rob appears on Annie's doorstep in Aberdeen, he is both a catalyst for recollection and the first harbinger of an increasingly complicated future. Though the present action shifts among eight different points of view, the novel's core belongs to "bonny" Annie, who, at 40, is enmeshed in stifling domesticity. She willingly mothers the troubled Rob, less out of loyalty to busy, brusque Alistair than out of her own desire for children; she and her husband, Graham, have, after many years, given up trying. Jamie, an undermotivated artist, and Tom, a solitude-loving poet and antiquarian book dealer, also care for Rob, even as they struggle with their own versions of extended adolescence. As things begin to fall apart—Graham embarks on an affair, Tom's married lover moves away, Alistair loses his job and Jamie's pregnant wife has emergency surgery—the four grown children are drawn together again, back to the High House where Lindsay disappeared. With its mannered prose and its dedication to plumbing the depths of domestic negotiation, whether meaningful or banal, the book reads like a costume drama without the costumes; while some readers will find the atmosphere suffocating and Annie irritatingly mawkish, Anglophiles and Masterpiece Theatre devotees will probably welcome Forsyth to our shores. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4299-7403-5
Ebook - 424 pages - 978-1-910124-20-8
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!