cover image The Truth of the Matter

The Truth of the Matter

Robb Forman Dew, . . Little, Brown, $24.95 (327pp) ISBN 978-0-316-89004-5

Dew returns to the Scofields of Washburn, Ohio, for a minutely observed, lucid and lyrical examination of family ties, the second in a trilogy (The Evidence Against Her ). By the early days of WWII, widow Agnes Scofield (her husband, Warren, died in a car accident in 1930) has raised four children. Financially pressed and emotionally repressed, Agnes has learned to rely on her schoolteacher's salary, her lifelong friends Lily and Robert Butler, and her ability to keep her thoughts to herself. The Scofield household is first disrupted when the now adult children leave to join the war effort, and then again when they return with spouses, children and ideas of their own. Dew details inner turmoil with delicacy, wit and precision; she focuses on life's ordinary moments, studying them from various points of view and revealing layers of feeling. A Fourth of July picnic gets rehashed by town gossips; family myths are traced to their unlikely origins. As Washburn's postwar expansion casts the Scofield home into shabby respectability, the Scofields likewise change with the times, and Agnes returns to the Maine vacation house of the first novel to come to terms with truths she has spent a lifetime avoiding, in a moving yet unsentimental culmination to a remarkable personal journey. (Nov.)