This exquisite novel is told in three distinct and compelling voices. There’s Andie, a 30-something young woman who has returned to her family’s New England farmhouse to settle her uncle’s estate and to flee an unhealthy relationship. There’s Gert, Andie’s headstrong aunt, who helped raise her. And Frank, Andie’s uncle, the most fascinating and likeable ghost I’ve come across in fiction.
Yes, you’ve read that right: Frank’s dead. But he hasn’t exactly left the house. He’s a quiet but impassioned presence, watching relationships unfold in the house. He’s slowly gathering energy, in a variety of ways, to communicate with his loved ones and to reconcile with his past.
The past haunts all of these characters, and how they come to terms with their regrets — as well as how they chart a course for their future, and for the family farm — makes for a fascinating read. In particular, Andie is at an important crossroads in her life. She’s just back from Italy, having finished a Ph.D. in art history, and she’s nursing her wounds from an unhealthy relationship with a slick guy named Neal. But it’s soon clear that the family farm will not provide her with a complete refuge from her problems. And there’s plenty of room for complications when Cort — the boy she used to babysit — appears on the scene, all grown up.
The writing in this novel is as gorgeous as the cover. The 200-year-old farmhouse, the surrounding town of Hartman, CT, and the summer languor, are all so vividly described. Despite the paranormal element, this story reads more like a contemporary novel, with believable, sympathetic characters. All of them continue to haunt me now that I’ve come, with regrets, to the end.