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Publishers WeeklyPerhaps if the many characters and tragedies of this debut had been partitioned off into separate novels or stories, they would have had a better chance at sympathy or sustained interest. As it is, this novel drowns in pathos. Alice, adopted as an infant and haunted by her birth family and ancestors, tells her story, their stories, and the stories of the inhabitants of her small New England lake town, Kettleborough, N.H., from early settlers who go back several generations to more direct players in her melancholic tale. The plot is driven almost entirely by what comes to feel like a catalog of tragedies: suicides, car accidents, disappearances, a fire, characters oppressed and scorned for their sexual orientation or social status, domestic abuse, a miscarriage, statutory rape, killing. Rather than resonating with depth or greater meaning, however, the results is a book hobbled by tragedy, not helped by an endless foreboding and an often ponderous tone. Characters are forced into inhuman postures in the name of serious subjects. The minimalism of the prose, working against the melodrama, tries to wrestle the book from its accumulated weight. Agent: Eleanor Jackson, Markson Thoma.
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