I first came upon this novel in early 2016, and I borrowed it, finding its premise intriguing. However, I was unable to get through it. Not because it was bad or anything, but because this was a long, drawn out novel that requires a good amount of time and patience from the reader. And I just didn’t have that time. I decided to give it another shot now that I have a little more leeway in my schedule, and I actually got through it all in one day. Here is my review:
One winter afternoon, George Clare comes back from work to his home in upstate New York to find his wife murdered and their daughter, 3-year old Frannie, alone in the house. He immediately takes his daughter and runs to his closest neighbour and asks them to call the cops. When the police arrive, they take in the crime scene and the brutal state of the body, before taking in George as a suspect. George’s parents swoop in and rescue him from the police cell, but the cops are still not convinced of his innocence. However, there is no evidence to hold George and soon the investigation stalls to a halt. Throughout the story, we get glimpses of people, both professionally and personally, and it takes more than 20 years for justice to be served. With its vignettes on marriage and life, we see the various ways that a family – and even an entire community – can be scarred by tragedy.
I enjoyed this novel immensely. The prose was absolutely beautiful, and the story left me speechless. Although it was slow-paced and mentioned a lot of philosophy and art (neither of which I am too fascinated by), everything made sense and fell into place in an enjoyable way. I loved reading from multiple perspectives, even when there were story lines that had nothing to do with the main crime. I felt that those random insights into the lives of others in the community gave the novel more depth. Many reviewers have complained about the fact that there are no quotations used in the entire book, thereby making it hard to see what is a description or thought versus something someone actually said. While I also faced some difficulty in that aspect, I could appreciate the effect it created; it made it more clear how fine of a line there is between our inner misgivings and feelings and our outward behaviour and words. And this line was different for all of the characters, so it actually helped me see them as unique entities. There was a supernatural aspect to this novel, that was an interesting touch, but did not really have that much of a purpose and was perhaps unnecessary. Overall, however, I found this novel to be absolutely fantastic and I wouldn’t change one thing. This novel makes you feel and think differently and deeply, and if you are in the mood for a story that will suck you in and change you afterwards, then you should definitely give this one a try!