The Northern Reach

W.S. Winslow. Flatiron, $26.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-250-77648-8
Winslow’s ambitious if overstuffed debut novel in stories traverses several generations of four intersecting families in Wellbridge, Maine. In the opener, “Mother Ship,” set in 1977, matriarch Edith Baines watches a schooner from her window and reflects on the death of her husband and older son while lobstering the year before. During a visit from Margery, the wife of her surviving son, Edith expresses dismay that Margery’s daughter has married into the Moody family, which she considers “the lowest of Wellbridge’s no-’count families.” In other stories, ghosts appear. “Striptease” portrays a woman dying of cancer who imagines her aunt in the car, and “Smoke Signals in the Aftertime” describes a dead woman hovering like smoke in her house to hear what her kids really think of her. In “Requiem (for the Unburied),” artist Susan Baines, granddaughter of Edith, returns to Wellbridge from Brooklyn in 2017, and covers an old painting of the family house in heavy strokes. Winslow dutifully captures a sense of place and has an ear for dry New England wit, but the large cast and shuffled snapshots across a broad timeline make this a bit unwieldy. In the end, the fractured form doesn’t do justice to the material. Agent: Stephanie Cabot, Susanna Lea Assoc. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/11/2021
Release date: 03/02/2021
Genre: Fiction
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