Distance Between Us

Distance Between Us

4.5 7
by Bart Yates
     
 

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Hester Parker resides in an elegant Victorian house in the town of Bolton, Illinois. She spends her evenings listening to the lush tones of Mahler and Chopin, drinking sub-par Merlot, and reflecting on a life that has suddenly fallen apart. At seventy-one, Hester is as brilliant and sharp-tongued as ever, capable of inspiring her music students to soaring heights

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Overview

Hester Parker resides in an elegant Victorian house in the town of Bolton, Illinois. She spends her evenings listening to the lush tones of Mahler and Chopin, drinking sub-par Merlot, and reflecting on a life that has suddenly fallen apart. At seventy-one, Hester is as brilliant and sharp-tongued as ever, capable of inspiring her music students to soaring heights or reducing them to tears with a single comment. But her wit can't hide the bitterness that comes with loss—the loss of her renowned violinist husband, Arthur Donovan, who left her for another woman, and the loss of her career as a concert pianist after injuring her wrist.

When Hester decides to rent out the attic apartment to Alex, a young college student, she has no idea of the impact he will have on her life and her family. Good-natured and awkward, with secrets of his own, Alex becomes an unlikely confidant and a means of reconnecting with the world outside Hester's window. But his presence also exposes old memories and grief that Hester has tried to bury. Over the course of one remarkable month, Hester will confront angry accusations, long-hidden jealousies, and the inescapable truth that tore her family apart and might, against all odds, help reconcile them again. And her brief friendship with Alex will leave each with a surprising legacy—acceptance of the past, a seed of comfort in the present, and hope for the future, wherever it may lead.

"Absorbing. . .brims with quiet intensity."—Publishers Weekly

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In the absorbing latest from Yates (Leave Myself Behind), an Illinois piano teacher whose virtuoso career ended prematurely attempts to reconnect with her family after years of anguish and loss. Quirky, intimidating septuagenarian Hester Parker tells her story in retrospect. Early in her marriage, she derives pleasure from the music of her violinist husband, Arthur Donovan, and her two sons, Jeremy and Paul, both accomplished musicians. But despite an outstanding intellect, daughter Caitlin fails to inherit the family genius and suffers the plight of the outsider. A tragedy proves to have more consequences than meet the eye, and Hester's marriage dissolves, leaving her alone in her imposing Victorian home. Cut to the present, when quiet college student Alex rents her upstairs apartment, the two develop an attachment that helps both come to terms with their plights, yet threatens what Hester holds most dear. Yates's family melodrama brims with quiet intensity. (Sept.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780758226976
Publisher:
Kensington
Publication date:
07/01/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

BART YATES lives in Iowa City, Iowa, where he works as a freelance musician and teacher. He has a master's degree from Boston University, and he plays clarinet in a jazz duo, Nica's Dream. He is the author of the award-winning Leave Myself Behind and The Brothers Bishop.

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Distance Between Us 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Loves2ReadJS More than 1 year ago
I wholeheartedly enjoyed and recommend this third novel by Bart Yates. The author is a very talented writer and storyteller. In this novel, he takes a potentially unlikeable character and infuses her with such intelligence and humor that although you may not like some of her actions, you appreciate her point of view and delightfully wicked sense of humor. The adage less is more applies to the author's style of writing since he doesn't try to impress the reader with convoluted plots and overblown prose and yet he is able to convey complex personalities and the life events that help you get inside his characters. The Distance Between Us is about relationships and all the baggage that makes relating to each other so damn hard. The story is poignant, but richly imbued with remarkable dry wit that had me laughing out loud in appreciation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. I love this author.
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Stimulated-Outlet More than 1 year ago
I don't think any book could ever be described as "perfect", but Bart Yates's The Distance Between Us comes much closer than I ever expected. Growing up in a household where I was either making or listening to music at odd hours of the day and night, this novel struck me in the authenticity of Hester's passion for it. To her, it is more than a profession or a gift; it is life itself, and a language so wholly unique that it takes a kindred spirit to truly understand. All of this comes through in shadows of the past and her ongoing need for classical music in the background even when drinking herself into a tizzy. Yates demonstrates a stunning command of language as he mixes plot with honest characterizations that show both the strengths and failures of each imaginary person involved. Each personality is distinct and stays true to itself even when demonstrating redeeming and condemning features. The repartee between members of the Donovan family is absolutely brilliant, and it broke my heart even as it made me laugh. It was so depressingly pathetic and hilarious that I couldn't help it. Beyond that, the story slowly reveals itself through a combination of present day and flashback as Hester tries to remember just how her family fell apart. At first, it seems rather straightforward: her husband had an affair, her children took his side, and now a random tenant is keeping her company and preventing her from becoming that crotchety old lush in a fancy house. Bit by bit, however, the author introduces emotional depth, and purpose, in a way that flows naturally and drags you into the mechanisms of the disintegration of the Donovan household. The complexity of it, as well as the realness, is astounding and shows a great understanding of the human condition, more so because the ending isn't neat and tidy, but rather, it all plays out in a manner that one can believe in. My one potential complaint about this novel was that the entire tale took place over the course of a one-month period. I feel as if I've made a yearlong journey, and the idea that all of it could have occurred over the span of thirty some-odd days seems almost preposterous. Looking back, however, the timeline does indeed fit; it just seems like a great deal of activity for such a short period of time. (There were also a few typographical errors towards the last few chapters, such as a dropped "I" or random spaces occurring in the middle of words. Luckily, I was too caught up to notice . . . much.) Most books whose description includes such phrases as "formidable writer" and "unforgettable new novel" lend themselves to the possibility of being overblown. This novel, however, deserves all of those accolades and more. -Stimulated Outlet Book Reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've been a fan since Leave Myself Behind (phenomenal) and I loved this book as well. Look forward to more from this author!