This novella by Carole Giangrande has a lot of pain and emotion packed into its 127 pages. It's able to cover quite a time span and tell a full story without the reader feeling like they missed out.
Description: 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.
It's quite amazing that three narrators are packed into this short book. The first Alastair, is a bit hard to engage with but gives the background of the story. His ex-wife is a bitch. That's about the nicest thing I can say about her. An awful human being.
The second to tell her story is Claire. She was a teenager when the accident that is THE event of this story happens. This accident shapes the lives of all the characters. Claire is kind, smart and the least negatively effected by the tragedy. She overs clarity (ha) and friendship and has an abundance of patience.
The last to tell their story is Grace. The daughter of Alastair and Nora. She has a colorful life story and Robinhood esque tendencies.
I felt that the beginning was slow but I really related to the Claire section of the book. I liked that it was shorter and that it felt complete. The author reminded me a bit of Margaret Atwood.
Have you read a novella recently? Do you read short stories or do you tend to read long novels? What is the best short story you've read?
I received this book for review but all thoughts and feelings are my own!