Published September 2015 by Inanna Publications
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
Alastair Luce is a dreamer, one of three who tell this tale.
A Canadian expat in the 1950s, he lives in a New York City suburb with his wife, Nora, a passionate American who misses the excitement of wartime life and finds an outlet — and a lover — during the Red scare. Alastair’s an artist, a quiet man who paints houses for a living, fears atomic holocaust, drinks too much and worries about his suffering child Grace. Just before the accident that kills his daughter’s best friend Todd, he offers a ride to their teenage neighbour, Claire Bernard.
She continues the story as a witness to tragedy, a wry observer of suburban mores and a compassionate friend of Alastair, whose talent and politics she’d long admired. Yet in the era of Vietnam, she’s not prepared for his love or his anguish as she marries and leaves for Canada. In Toronto, it’s Alastair’s exiled daughter Grace who speaks, giving voice to her fury, an artist who works to “burn” the city down with brilliant colour, who resents Claire for hurting her dad, and still grieves the loss of young Todd. Yet Grace, Claire and Alastair are bound together by their history, and a crisis draws their painful stories to a climax. It’s then that Grace ventures homeward for the first time, into a startling vision of the unknown.
Here's proof that it's possible to tell a story full of depth and complex characters and not take 1000 pages to do it. Giangrande has managed to intertwine the story of these three characters' lives, spanning decades and covering a wealth of themes in just over 125 pages.
"In her was a sorrow he couldn't penetrate, a grievous story that he felt he must have written, but couldn't read. Like having lousy eyesight, like trying to read the letters on the chart while the doctor flips lens after lens - not this one; no, not that one. Nothing would help a man that close to blindness. Why couldn't he see? Perplexed, he'd blamed their confusions on the war that had hurled them together like flying debris from a bomb-blast of a ruined home. It had cracked the foundations of hope, made fissures in its sheltering walls, pinned them under its collapsing roof-beams."Nora and Alastair should never have married. She was a woman who missed the excitement of the job she'd been allowed to do in the war, a woman who only a few decades later might have chosen a career over a marriage. She was also a woman in love with another man, a man who fell in love with his nurse during the war only to move back home right next door to Nora and Alastair. Alastair was a man who suffered from depression who was desperately searching for someone to love him. Nora was never meant to be that person. Their marriage was doomed from the start. What Giangrande gives readers is a glimpse into the fallout from a marriage like theirs. Forbidden love, infidelity, loss, anger, mental illness, loneliness, guilt, child abuse, misjudgment and miscommunication. And in Cold War-era America, that's all set in a climate of mistrust and fear. Further, Giangrande reminds readers that the shock waves don't necessarily have a stopping point, but can ripple out for decades. Grace, Claire and Alastair never fully recover but carry, to varying degrees, the scars of those years when Nora and Alastair fell apart and a terrible accident set things in motion.
www.carolegiangrande.com, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.
Thanks to the ladies at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. I always find something of interest in books written by Canadian authors. For other impressions, check out the full tour.