cover image Swell


Jill Eisenstadt. LB/Boudreaux, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-316-31690-3

Eisenstadt’s (From Rockaway) detailed and eclectic novel takes readers to a dilapidated oceanfront house full of secrets, ghosts, and an old woman’s cast-off tchotchkes. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Glassmans move from their small, suddenly uninhabitable Tribeca apartment with their two daughters (and one on the way) to a Rockaway beach house, bought for them by Sue Glassman’s father-in-law, Sy. To Sue’s chagrin, this is on the condition that Sy move in with them—and that Sue convert to Judaism. Moreover, the house is falling apart and full of the prior owner’s possessions. Rose, an elderly Italian lady, shows up at their doorstep in a wheelchair demanding her house back and her garden restored. She spends multiple afternoons sitting in the Glassmans’ garden, accusing them of conspiring to swindle her. Heavily pregnant, Sue wants nothing more than to be rid of the pesky former owner and her old junk. But the more Sue learns about Rose and the house, the more she comes to see how intertwined the two really are. In this touching portrait of ordinary people grappling with the aftershocks of 9/11—memorials, uncertainty, death, and a new life—the emotional upheaval of a national tragedy leaves no one unaffected. (June)