cover image The Dependents

The Dependents

Katharine Dion. Little Brown, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-316-47387-3

Death and unavoidable truth shatter the serene surface of a man’s golden years in Dion’s fine debut, set in the hills of New Hampshire. Gene Ashe’s wife dies suddenly, leaving Gene to sort through the physical and emotional remnants of their life. Their 49-year marriage was entwined from the start with college friends Ed and Gayle Donnelly, but Gene is beginning to question the nature of their friendship. As they reminisce about raising their children in the same small town, Gene is forced to reconsider past events and grapple with choices that left him disconnected from family and friends. Gene’s daughter, Dary, meanwhile, remains emotionally distant from him and doesn’t want to hear his entreaties about why she should get married instead of having a child as a single parent. Amid his grief and the realization that he can’t remember when life started to feel so hollow, Gene stumbles into an unexpected relationship. But without his wife’s companionship, new doubts constantly arise, and Gene must understand what in his life is worth living for and what made him worth loving: “love was not enough... but now it was too late for him to adopt a new delusion.” The narrative travels back and forth through Gene’s life as he tries to pick apart the performative from the heartfelt acts of love. The result is a beautiful story of communication and commitment. (June)