Errandsby Judith Guest
Keith, Annie's husband of seventeen years, is dying of cancer. It is a fate he has accepted.
As bestselling author of the critically acclaimed masterpiece, Ordinary People, Judith Guest knows the subtle rhythms of family life. Now, in her luminous new novel, Errands, Guest once again gives us an unforgettable family that finds the fabric of their lives unraveling.
Keith, Annie's husband of seventeen years, is dying of cancer. It is a fate he has accepted. Annie, however, can not will not accept it. She finds her entire world turned upside down after Keith's death.
Consumed with grief, mounting bills, everyday tasks that seem insurmountable, and three kids that have become nagging sources of frustration, Annie fails to see that the family is beginning to come apart. It takes another threatening event for them to learn that even with the loss of Keith, they are still a family a different family, but one that is no less loving, real, and enduring than they had been with a father and husband in the house.
As in Guest's earlier works, the setting is Detroit and Upper Michigan. As the story begins, the BrownersKeith, an English teacher, Annie, his wife, and their children Harry, 13, Jimmy, 12, and Julie, 9are on vacation in Au Gres on Lake Huron, awaiting the first of Keith's scheduled chemo treatments for a brain tumor that's just been diagnosed. But before treatments can begin, Keith, 38, dies, and the Browner family descends into grief and confusion. Back in Detroit, Annie searches for something more than a minimum- wage job (she had dropped out of college to marry), while the three kids, reacting to their mother's increasing rage and frustration, as well as to their own loss, grow fractious and sullen, then start skipping school and stealing. Annie's sweet younger sister Jess tries to help, but she's got her own troubles: Jess's married lover, Ryan, who keeps promising to divorce his alcoholic wife, instead goes back to her after she cripples their nine-year-old daughter in a car accident. Other griefs pile up: The stray cat the family adopted is killed by a car; Jimmy's brand-new bike, for which he'd saved up for two years, is stolen. Annie, frayed and feeling abandoned, flees the melee, going back to Au Gres to reflect on Keith's death; but she returns when Jimmy is nearly blinded in a fishing accident. In the midst of this particular extremity, Guest subtly and persuasively paints the beginning of family healing as each member is called on to perform an errand of love for the others.
A fine performancethe children are complex and delightful, the emotion direct and compellingthough the story is a sad and gloomy one.
- Random House Value Publishing, Incorporated
- Publication date:
Meet the Author
Judith Guest is the author of Ordinary People and Second Heaven. She lives in Edina, Minnesota, and Harrisville, Michigan.
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