by Cynthia Swanson
Published by Touchstone
Genre: fiction; mystery
4 / 5
Cynthia Swanson s-l-o-w-l-y unfolds her story through the perspectives of three women who couldn’t be more different yet were each affected by the men (two brothers, no less) in their lives.
You first meet Angie Glass, a woman barely in her twenties who married the older, charismatic Paul. Together they have an infant son, and all seems cozy in their Door County, Wisconsin, cottage. Until, that is, their teenaged niece Ruby calls them to say that Paul’s brother Henry has died.
Angie feels like Ruby will connect with her because they are so close in age, so she goes with her husband to take care of the funeral. Silja, Ruby’s mother, is gone, having vanished after leaving a note saying she isn’t interested in hanging around any longer.
You soon realize that you aren’t quite sure what happened to Henry, and you aren’t quite sure why Silja left. Swanson builds her mystery with deliberate pacing, letting you think you know the truths those three women have even as she shows you that you know nothing.
And that, in a way, is a message of this book: you can love someone, you can live with someone, but can you ever really know someone, or is it more a matter of you choosing what you want to know? I felt for Angie as I worried that Paul used her youth and inexperience against her, despite his apparent devotion to her and their child. I wanted to feel more for Silja than I did, but she seemed almost too – I don’t know – self-pitying, maybe. And then there is Ruby. While I did not connect with this character at all, I can’t say I figured out what stopped me until Swanson revealed her to her fullest extent.
I liked this book more the deeper I got into it. At first it moved a little too slowly for me, but as it built, I found I couldn’t put it down. I did not see some of the twists coming, whereas there were some I sensed would happen. Swanson needed Angie here. She is, in many ways, the heart of the book. Her innocence and youthful hope are desperately necessary. If only Silja and Ruby had her in their lives earlier.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Bookseller comes a gripping literary suspense novel set in the 1960s about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths.
In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her Wisconsin hometown. At twenty-one, she’s married to charming, handsome Paul, and has just given birth to a baby boy. But one phone call changes her life forever.
When Paul’s niece, Ruby, reports that her father, Henry, has committed suicide, and that her mother, Silja, is missing, Angie and Paul drop everything and fly to the small upstate town of Stonekill, New York to be by Ruby’s side.
Angie thinks they’re coming to the rescue of Paul’s grief-stricken young niece, but Ruby is a composed and enigmatic seventeen-year-old who resists Angie’s attempts to nurture her. As Angie learns more about the complicated Glass family, staying in Henry and Silja’s eerie and ultra-modern house on the edge of the woods, she begins to question the very fabric of her own marriage.
Through Silja’s flashbacks, Angie’s discovery of astonishing truths, and Ruby’s strategic dissection of her parents’ state of affairs, a story of love, secrets, and ultimate betrayal is revealed.
About the Author:
My name is Cynthia Swanson
…and I’m a writer and designer.
I started out in college (a long time ago) majoring in Architecture, because I have always loved design, and I thought I needed to pursue a “practical” career. But after a few years, I went back to my first love – writing – changing my major to English. I was a freelance technical/marketing writer for many years.
All the while, I aspired to a creative writing career. Now that I have one novel released (The Bookseller), and a second coming soon (The Glass Forest), I concentrate on writing fiction and personal essay.
Still, the design world continues to draw me in. I especially love midcentury design, and I’m constantly thinking of ways to enhance and improve our midcentury home. I’m also thrilled to discuss home design projects with others.
Review copy provided from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.