The Right-Hand Shore

Christopher Tilghman. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-374-20348-1
Tilghman’s exquisite third novel returns to the eastern shore of Maryland to prefigure the events of his first, Mason’s Retreat. It’s 1920, and recently married Edward Mason has arrived at the Retreat—a former plantation and peach orchard, and now a dairy—to meet his distant cousin, Mary Bayly, the current owner. Mary’s cancer has put the fate of the property in jeopardy—and Edward in line to receive the gift and burden of the land. After an unsettling interview with the formidable Mary, Edward sits with the longtime property manager, Oral French, and his wife, who recount the Retreat’s secrets, from miscegenation to slavery to murder. Listening to the pain caused by pride, selfishness, and the desire for love, Edward feels “mauled by the pull of the past, still so fresh for these people.” The tale’s descent into tragedy is nevertheless beautiful; “creamy yellow” sunlight and the perfume of peach blossoms pervade Mason’s Retreat alongside its ghosts and horrors. Tilghman maneuvers through the misery of three generations, following each elegant plot turn inevitably back to its source: this living, breathing land on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Agent: Geri Thoma, Markson Thoma. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/12/2012
Release date: 04/24/2012
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 663 pages - 978-1-4104-5244-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-5962-2
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-4668-0226-1
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4272-3038-6
Paperback - 358 pages - 978-1-250-03328-4
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