cover image Letter from Point Clear

Letter from Point Clear

Dennis McFarland, . . Holt, $25 (290pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-7766-7

A n absorbing, resonant domestic drama, McFarland’s latest follows the dysfunctional Owen family’s reunion in Point Clear, Ala., 10 months after the death of the family’s alcoholic patriarch, Roy. Of the three adult children, Ellen, a published poet, is separated from her husband for the summer and caring for their young son, Willie. With her high-strung, opinionated brother, Morris, and Richard, Morris’s partner of 14 years, Ellen and Willie travel to the family’s Point Clear estate, where the youngest, Bonnie, has been living since abandoning a floundering Manhattan theatrical career to care for ailing Roy. The occasion is Bonnie’s quickie marriage to a young, dashing evangelical preacher named Pastor Vandorpe, who credits himself with having “saved” Bonnie. Bonnie is pregnant and, she tells an incredulous Ellen, happy. The addition of Pastor’s pious parents powers a destructive tension, with everyone locking horns over homosexuality, gay marriage, religion and property ownership. A strained family dinner denouement ignites a clash pitting Ellen and Morris against an ex-gay minister invited to “save” Morris. Can a crisis of faith be far behind? Though McFarland (Prince Edward , etc.) imparts a religious message that feels heavy-handed in spots, his ability to tap the hearts and minds of his carefully considered characters adds up to an evocative novel. (Aug.)