A series of summer house fires exposes deep social faults in the hometown of Frankie Rowley, who makes unsettling discoveries about her aging parents while engaging in an affair with a local journalist.
- With her trademark elegant prose and masterful command of subtle psychological nuance, Miller explores the tensions between the summer people and the locals in a small New Hampshire town. Frankie Rowley, after years spent doing relief work abroad, has returned to her parents’ summer home, unsure of whether she will ever go back to East Africa, feeling depleted by that region’s seemingly endless suffering. But the reassuring comfort of the small town she has been coming to since she was a girl is shattered by a series of fires set by an arsonist who has targeted the rambling summer homes of the wealthy. Frankie falls into an unexpected and passionate love affair with the local newspaper editor while also becoming privy to her parents’ difficulties, with her mother seeming to resent her husband’s decline into Alzheimer’s, especially since she no longer loves him. The town, awash in fear of the unknown arsonist, splits into factions aligned along class divisions. In this suspenseful and romantic novel, Miller delicately parses the value of commitment and community, the risky nature of relationships, and the yearning for meaningful work.(Booklist, vol 110, number 17, p76)
- Publishers Weekly:
- A small New Hampshire town provides the backdrop for Miller’s (The Senator’s Wife ) provocative novel about the boundaries of relationships and the tenuous alliance between locals and summer residents when a crisis is at hand. After years of being an aid worker in Africa, Frankie Rowley returns to the idyllic Pomeroy, N.H., summer home to which her parents have retired. But all is not well in Pomeroy, where a spate of house fires leaves everyone wary and afraid. Frankie, who may have seen the arsonist her first night home, contemplates her ambiguous future and falls for Bud Jacobs, a transplant who has traded the hustle and bustle of covering politics in D.C. for the security of smalltown life, buying the local newspaper. Meanwhile, Sylvia, Frankie’s mother, becomes concerned about her husband’s increasingly erratic behavior, fearful that it’s a harbinger of Alzheimer’s. Liz, Frankie’s married sister, has her hands full dealing with their parents while Frankie’s been overseas. Miller, a pro at explicating family relationships as well as the fragile underpinnings of mature romance, brilliantly draws parallels between Frankie’s world in Africa and her life in New Hampshire, and explores how her characters define what “home” means to them and the lengths they will go to protect it. (June) --Staff (Reviewed April 28, 2014) (Publishers Weekly, vol 261, issue 17, p)
- Library Journal:
- Retiring with her increasingly erratic professor husband to the New Hampshire town where she has summered for decades doesn't turn out as planned for Sylvia Rowley. Social tensions surface, starting with the renovation work Sylvia's son is doing on the property, and then local homes start falling to an arsonist. From the multi-million-copy best-selling Miller. --Barbara Hoffert (Reviewed January 1, 2014) (Library Journal, vol 139, issue 1, p71)