cover image The Guest Book

The Guest Book

Sarah Blake. Flatiron, $27.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-250-11025-1

Blake (The Postmistress) tells the history of the privileged Milton family from 1935 to present day in this powerful family saga. In 1935 New York, Kitty Milton, wife of Ogden, is enjoying the life of a New York society wife with her three children—five-year-old Neddy, three-year-old Moss, and one-year-old Joan—when Neddy dies in an accident. To help his wife heal, Ogden buys Crockett’s Island off the coast of Maine, and through the decades, the island becomes the Miltons’ summer refuge. In 1959, Moss is working in his father’s investment bank and invites his Jewish friend Len Levy, a fellow employee at the firm, and Reg Pauling, a black man and friend of Moss and Len, to visit the island. Len and Joan have been secretly dating, but Len isn’t certain if Joan will acknowledge their relationship in front of her family. The tensions of Len and Reg’s visit result in an argument that brings family secrets to light and ends in drama that will haunt those present for years to come. And in the present-day, as Milton family members must decide what to do with their island inheritance, they discover some answers to their family’s past. Blake has a particular knack for dialogue; she knows exactly how to reveal the hidden depths of the characters both through what is said and what is unsaid. The result is potent and mesmerizing. (May)