It's early summer when Ginny and William's peaceful life in Vermont comes to an abrupt halt.
First, their daughter Lillian arrives, with her two children in tow, to escape her crumbling marriage. Next, their son Stephen and his pregnant wife Jane show up for a weekend visit, which extends indefinitely when Jane ends up on bed rest. When their youngest daughter Rachel appears, fleeing her difficult life in New York, Ginny and William find themselves consumed again by the chaos of parenthood - only this time around, their children are facing adult problems.
By summer's end, the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility, exposing the challenges of surviving the modern family - and the old adage, once a parent, always a parent, has never rung so true.
|Publisher:||Little, Brown and Company|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Meg Mitchell Moore worked for several years as a journalist. Her articles have been published in a wide variety of business and consumer magazines. She received a master's degree in English literature from New York University. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and their three children. The Arrivals is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
The ArrivalsA Novel
By Moore, Meg Mitchell
Reagan Arthur BooksCopyright © 2011 Moore, Meg Mitchell
All right reserved.
It was eight thirty in the morning, June, a Saturday, and the sunlight was coming in the kitchen window at such an angle that William’s granddaughter, Olivia, had to shield her eyes with one hand while she bent her head to sip from the straw in her glass of orange juice. In a couple of minutes the sun would shift and begin to move over the garden, out of Olivia’s eyes—William had sat at that table for too many years not to know that—but even so he rose and pulled the cord on the shade, lowering it six inches.
Sitting back down, he pushed aside a stack of coloring pages on which Olivia, who had been up for two and a half hours already, had begun making halfhearted scribbles and swirls and even, in the corner of one sheet of paper, a small triangular object that she claimed was a dog. He opened the front section of the Burlington Free Press, unwittingly setting the sports section on top of a small puddle of orange juice.
Olivia watched him. She was three, but she would tell you with no small amount of dignity that she was three and five-eighths. William, who had been the one to get up with her, was on his fourth cup of coffee. A fifth was not out of the question. At the stove, Ginny, his wife, was scrambling the eggs Olivia had requested for breakfast.
“Well,” he said, “when do you suppose Lillian will be down?”
“I don’t know,” Ginny said without turning around. She extracted the saltshaker from its berth in the spice cupboard and shook. “Eventually, I’m sure. I’m surprised the baby is still sleeping.”
“That baby cries all the time,” said Olivia. She screwed up her tiny, perfect nose. “He’s a bad baby.”
“He’s not a bad baby,” said William. “He’s your brother. That’s just what babies do: they cry. You cried too, when you were a baby.”
“I did?” asked Olivia airily. “I bet I didn’t.”
“Oh, you did,” said William. “You cried all the time. You cried oceans.”
Ginny carried the plates to the table and set them down before William and Olivia.
“No toast yet,” she said. “I’m working on it.”
“I don’t like scrambled eggs,” said Olivia.
“You liked them yesterday,” said Ginny. “Five minutes ago, when I asked you what you wanted for breakfast, you liked them then, too.”
“But I don’t like them anymore,” Olivia said implacably. “I like soft-boiled.”
Lillian had called two days ago to let them know she was coming. Not to ask them if it was all right if she came, but to tell them. William listened to Ginny’s end of the phone conversation from the deck, where he had the Red Sox game on the old portable television, a beer in his hand. He was looking out over the garden, still tentative in early summer.
“All of you, then?” he heard Ginny say. “The whole kit and caboodle?” Then a pause. Then “Oh, I see,” but in a way that said she didn’t see. At last she appeared at the door, flushed from her energetic dinner preparations, faintly flustered.
“They’re coming,” she said. “Lillian and the children. Tomorrow!” And off she went in a frenzy of arrangements, which took her long past their usual bedtime. There were fresh sheets to put on the beds, and the Pack ’n Play to set up for the baby in Lillian’s old room. A last-minute trip to the grocery store, to purchase the very eggs at which Olivia was now turning up her nose.
Later, in the semidarkness of their bedroom—the moon was full, or nearly so—William finally had an opportunity to ask her.
“Why just Lillian and the children? Why not Tom?”
“He has to work, I suppose.” Ginny was on her side, turned toward him, her hands settled tidily under her chin.
“Over the weekend? He has to work over the weekend?”
“I got the impression Lillian might stay a bit longer. Have a bit of a vacation.” Ginny’s eyes were closed. Her words came out in a fragmented way; it was as if she were speaking through a net. She wore a sleeveless nightgown of a color that had once been a vibrant blue but had long ago faded to muted gray.
“How long?” He was thinking of the weekend plans that would now have to be changed: the dinner with Hal and Maria canceled or postponed, the Sunday papers unread, the Saturday-afternoon baseball game unwatched.
“I don’t know,” Ginny said. “But shame on you for asking. You should be happy to have her.”
“Mmmmh,” said William.
Lillian was the oldest of their three children. She had left home ages ago. William supposed he could begin counting her absence when she went off to Boston College as a freshman, with a giant paisley duffel bag and a tangle of auburn hair. Though there had been a brief postcollegiate stint when something—a lack of money, a broken heart, a lost job—had driven her back home for six months, during which she’d slept away the days in the very bed in which she now reposed and passed the evenings in a sullen state in front of the television or out with friends, returning from those outings in a state of mild hysteria or ebullience.
Lillian had been gone from them for so long, in fact, that sometimes, despite not-infrequent visits, William found it difficult to call her image to mind, and when he did it was an outdated picture that presented itself. A girl on a soccer field with two missing teeth and scabbed knees, not a woman who had transformed herself—effortlessly, it seemed, almost magically—from befuddled youth to capable adult and mother. Witness Olivia here on the stool beside him, witness the baby asleep in the room upstairs.
So why did he still feel this irksome responsibility toward Lillian, this desire to protect her? And protect her from what? Because, now that she was here, it turned out that despite his initial lack of enthusiasm, despite the concern about the paper and the game and the plans, nothing made him happier, nothing made him feel safer and more at ease with the world, than having one of his children under his roof once again.
“I’ll go and look in on them,” he said now, standing.
“You haven’t eaten your eggs.” Ginny’s voice rose an octave. “Is nobody going to eat these eggs I cooked?”
“I’m not,” said Olivia with great cheer.
“I’ll have a look, and then I’ll eat.”
“Don’t, William. If the baby’s sleeping—well, you’ll only make things worse. And the eggs won’t keep. Nothing drearier than cold eggs.”
“What’s ‘drearier’?” interjected Olivia.
“Worse,” said Ginny. “Nothing worse than cold eggs.”
“I’ll go and listen, then,” William said. “Outside the door.”
And he did exactly that. Ginny had put Lillian in her old room, which she done over as a guest room, with a cheerful flowered comforter and a vase of pastel marbles on the white dresser. Olivia was deposited in Rachel’s old room, which remained much as Rachel had left it, in a state of organized chaos, with a Kurt Cobain poster on the back of the closet door. Stephen’s old room they had done up as absolutely nothing, and as a result it had become the receptacle of myriad suitcases, once-used mailers with bubble wrap sticking out of them, winter boots packed in boxes after the spring thaw had come, however late and reluctantly, to Vermont.
William paused outside the door. They had lived for so long in this house, the bunch of them, that he failed, mostly, to take in any of the details. For example: in this hallway, with its various nicks and chips, evidence of the children’s (and then later Olivia’s) propensity for banging things inappropriately against the walls, hung a school portrait for each of the children. Here was Rachel, toothy, dark-haired, eagerly leaning toward the camera. Stephen, the year he got his braces, pulling his lips forward purposefully to hide them, his cowlick standing at attention.
And here, next to Stephen, was Lillian. She must have been in junior high in this picture. You could see, even there in the dim light of the hallway, despite the age of the picture, the luminous skin, the beauty emerging from the little girl.
From downstairs came Ginny’s voice, strident now. “William? William! What are you doing? I told you, these eggs aren’t going to keep!”
He could hear Ginny as clearly as if she had been speaking through a megaphone aimed directly at his ear. That was one of the strange and delightful things about this house, the way the sound carried from one place to another, even if the first place was geographically distant from the second.
But in addition to Ginny’s voice, something else. He could hear the sound—muffled but unmistakable, familiar, even, in a way that he would not have thought possible, this many years removed from when he had last heard it—of his daughter crying.
Lillian woke in her childhood bed. Beside her, in the Pack ’n Play, the baby had begun to make tiny, mewling noises, which Lillian tried to ignore. She opened her eyes just a fraction, but it was enough to see the pale strips of sunlight coming through the slats in the blinds.
She lay still, as still as possible, forcing her breathing to become deep and even, willing the baby back to sleep. He had woken three times in the night, twice to nurse and once for no discernable reason—belly full, diaper dry, that time—and on each occasion she had consulted the numbers on the digital clock that sat on the pristine white nightstand. Just after midnight, then two, then three.
She had turned on the lamp that last time, and studied the baby in the glow the bulb cast over the room. He was three months old now. He had lost the boneless look his body had had at the beginning of life, when he had curled like a semicircle on her chest to nap; he had lost, too, the alien shape to his head with which he had emerged from her womb, blinking and whimpering, then fixing her and Tom with an uncompromising stare that seemed to say, Well, here I am. What are you going to do with me now?
What they were going to do to with him, with the baby, Baby Philip, who might one day (but so far hadn’t) become a Phil, was upend his tiny universe before he’d even had a chance to become accustomed to it. Or rather, that’s what Tom was going to do. Tom was going to drink a few too many gin and tonics at the company party in May and sleep with his assistant, a snub-nosed snowboarder named Nina, while Lillian sat at home with leaky breasts and dark circles under her eyes, blithely unaware, nearly comatose, watching an episode of Supernanny and eating chocolate chip Breyers straight from the container.
Which transgression Lillian was going to learn about from a (formerly) dear friend of hers named Marianne, who had attended the party with her own husband, a leader of the product development team at the same company, and who had come to Lillian contritely and had, in painstaking detail, laid out the scene.
“He was awfully drunk,” Marianne had said. “It was that kind of a party. People did crazy things, all sorts of crazy things. He wasn’t the only one, not by a long shot. You know that type of party: the office party gone awry.”
“I’m not sure I do,” Lillian had said coolly. “I haven’t worked in an office since before Olivia was born.”
“Well, for example—”
“That’s it,” said Lillian. “I don’t need to hear any more.”
“He wasn’t the only one,” said Marianne. “If that helps.”
“It doesn’t,” said Lillian.
“We’re going, then,” she said to Tom fiercely later that day—God, only Thursday, just two days ago. “I’m taking the children, and I’m going.” There was some satisfaction in saying this, in watching the color rise to his cheeks—those pale Irish cheeks, quick, like hers, to display exposure to sun or alcohol or embarrassment—but not enough.
She had packed like a person in a movie, quickly and dramatically, pulling suitcases onto the bed, emptying the contents of drawers into them without considering her choices. (So it was that when she unpacked she discovered that she had brought along an old red shawl she had worn over a black dress years ago to a friend’s wedding. Not quite vintage, she supposed, fingering it later in the quiet of the guest room. But certainly outdated. And pantyhose. She’d brought pantyhose! In June, to Vermont!)
Tom was remorseful, appropriately chagrined, embarrassed, all of the things he should have been. He didn’t try to get them to stay. (If he had, Lillian thought partway through the four-hour drive north, she might have acquiesced, her anger and hurt considerable but not necessarily strong enough to negate the effort of transporting the two children on her own.)
Olivia had been finger-painting in the yard in a plastic smock. When Lillian went to fetch her, the little girl was completely absorbed in her work, smearing alternating circles of blue and green on the page. Watching her for a moment, Lillian was filled with such a fierce love, such a desire to envelop and protect, that she hardly knew what to do next.
Now, in the guest room, which was formerly her room but which now bore very little resemblance to the room in which she remembered sipping from a purloined bottle of vodka her best friend, Heather, had procured from her mother’s liquor cabinet, and in which she had spent numerous hours talking and listening to that very same Heather on her pink Princess phone (back when phones tethered you firmly to your location), Lillian pushed herself up on her elbows. Four minutes past eight. The baby, having settled himself again after his initial murmurings, was still asleep. Lillian could hear her mother’s voice from downstairs, and Olivia’s too, and a low baritone that belonged unmistakably to her father.
“Wake up,” she whispered to Philip. It was time for a feeding—she could feel the tightness in her breasts that meant the ducts were filling. “Wake up,” she whispered again. “I’m ready for you now.”
But he slept on undeterred, curling a fist, raising it to his mouth, letting it fall again. She watched his chest move in and out, imagined the inner workings of his body, the astonishing efficiency with which his heart moved the blood around to the proper places.
Her sister, Rachel, seven years younger, not yet thirty, had driven up from New York City in a rented Impala to meet Philip four hours after he was born. Lillian had sat with sweaty, limp hair, watching Rachel, who looked particularly put together and glamorous, hold Philip. “God,” Rachel said. “He looks so vulnerable.” She worked for a casting director in New York City; she had, in her years in Manhattan, adopted a brisk, no-nonsense way of talking that was a far cry from the volubility she had shown as a child. “I mean, Lilly, I think he’s adorable. The fingernails and all of that—really, so tiny and perfect! But I wouldn’t know what to do with him, day after day after day.”
Then, in the flush after childbirth, in the brief stage of elation before the real fatigue set in, Lillian had felt pity for her younger sister, who had recently ended a relationship and was, as Ginny liked to say, “foundering.” But now she thought that maybe her sister had the right idea after all: all that free time, all that Sex and the City posturing, all those brunches at sidewalk cafés.
The business with Tom was so awful, really so impossible to contemplate, that if Lillian let herself think too much about it she feared she might crumble, rendering herself incapable of taking care of either of her children. Which was partly—no, mostly— why she had come to Vermont, to be taken care of herself, and to deliver Olivia and Philip into the loving and doting arms of their grandparents.
Not that they were going to find that out. She would never—she would not, she would absolutely not— tell her parents. Nor would she tell Rachel, nor her brother, Stephen, whose wife, Jane, was expecting a baby later that summer, and who was so wrapped up in attending to her considerable needs that even if she told him her tale of woe he wouldn’t have much time to absorb it.
Maybe, after all, she would tell Heather. Or maybe she wouldn’t tell Heather. Maybe she would soldier through on her own, like those hardy and relentless women from long ago, working the fields in faded dresses and wide-brimmed hats, shouldering the burdens of the household while the husbands were off fighting in wars. Doing whatever they could, these women, to ensure the survival of the family.
She hadn’t cried yet. Not when she told Tom she was leaving, not when she packed the car, not when she’d caught sight of her pouchy stomach in the bathroom mirror as she looked for the little cap shaped like a duck that was meant to go on top of Olivia’s toothbrush. Not when she bent down to Olivia and told her to pick out three of her favorite toys and collect all of her bathing suits because they might be staying a little while.
“All my bathing suits?” Olivia’s eyes grew wide.
“Yes, all of them.”
She hadn’t cried then, nor had she cried pulling out of the driveway or saying good-bye to the dog, who twice hopped into the back of the station wagon, thinking she was going along with them, but whom she entrusted to Tom because whatever his failings in the marriage department he was devoted to the dog.
But now, in the quiet of the room, surrounded by the things that were familiar and yet decidedly not so, it all began to seep out: the sorrow, the grief, the humiliation. Softly, with the pillow pressed to her nose, with her abdominal muscles clenched to keep the shaking of her shoulders to a minimum, Lillian began to cry.
The car eased through traffic on the West Side Highway. Beside Stephen, Jane closed her eyes. He put his hand on her arm and she let it stay there until he had to shift the car into a lower gear. Traffic had stopped.
“Mmmm,” she said. “Tired.”
This impromptu trip to see his parents had been Stephen’s idea, to get them out of the city. Which really meant to get him out of the city, or, more specifically, out of the apartment. He worked there, in their massive Tribeca loft, reviewing business books for a variety of publications, many of them obscure. He didn’t, he often thought, know as much about business as he should for someone thus employed, but he was a good enough writer that he could generally fake it. Occasionally he took on a bit of freelance editing. The loft was big and open, with soaring windows, and, sitting in the corner that he had claimed as his home office, looking out at the trendy furniture boutiques and funky art galleries, he could nearly pretend that he was in an altogether different building from the place where he ate and slept. He said, if anyone asked (and they rarely did), that he took on the extra editing to pay the bills, but the truth was (and probably most people who inquired already knew this) that it was really Jane’s job that paid the bills. His work provided something more akin to pocket money.
Jane worked as a managing director in midtown, in an office so sleek and so quietly stylish that each time he visited it Stephen came away with the feeling that he had been to a foreign country. The muted gray letters on the glossy black front of the building, the expensive art hanging on the walls, Jane’s pale, graceful assistant with the emerald eyes: all of these spoke to Stephen of a world so immaculate and precise, so tidily prosperous, that he, with his overflowing desk and piles of books stamped with Post-it notes, could never hope to join it.
“So wonderful,” his mother had said during a recent phone conversation, “that Jane enjoys her work so much. It will be a real adjustment for her when the baby comes.” He had not, at that moment, or in any moment since then, corrected his mother. He had not told her that Jane was planning to return to work three weeks after the baby’s birth. He had not told her that he himself, Stephen, with a master’s degree (in English Literature, to be sure, but a master’s degree nonetheless), was going to take a hiatus from working to care for the baby full-time.
He and Jane had talked about it ad nauseam (literally, it seemed to Stephen, because even into the middle of her second trimester Jane had suffered from bouts of morning sickness). They had agreed on the plan, they were both completely on board with it, and really it was a financial no-brainer, but even so Stephen found that he carried the plan around with him like a burden—like a terrible secret, which he had so far been able to divulge to nobody. Not to his friend Gareth, with whom he ran six miles every Saturday morning, not to either of his sisters, and certainly not to his mother.
Jane’s mother was an altogether different story. Robin, a divorced psychologist with her own practice in midtown, was all for the arrangement in a way that Ginny certainly would never be.
“That’s it,” Robin said approvingly, as the three of them sat over dinner in a restaurant near her office one Thursday evening not long ago. “Enough of this rubbish with gender roles. You two do what’s best for you, and never mind what the rest of the world says about it.” Robin had blondish hair cut in a stylish manner, all angles and points, and she had, in the way that seemed unique to women of a certain age in Manhattan, failed to age a minute since Stephen had first met her, seven years ago.
“Though,” she’d added patiently, laying a soothing hand on top of Stephen’s, “you’ll have to stop referring to the poor thing as it.”
“I’ll try,” he had said.
Stephen, for all the time he spent waiting for and preparing for the baby’s arrival, had not managed to develop an actual picture of what his days would entail once the baby turned from an it to a he or a she and acquired a name, a personality, clothes.
Sometimes, at lunch, he walked to a small, fenced-in playground near their building and sat with his wax-paper-wrapped sandwich to observe the children and caregivers he saw there. Mainly he saw foreign nannies of indeterminate origin, but occasionally the children were accompanied by their own mothers: smart-looking women in their midthirties, drinking from stainless-steel Starbucks mugs and comparing the features and faults of their strollers. Rarely did he see a father, and when he did it was typically a harried, expensively dressed bag of stress, typing frantically into a BlackBerry and glancing up intermittently to survey the action on the playground—clearly a stand-in for the regular caregiver.
Stephen had read all the requisite books about parenting that seemed to him to offer useful advice. He had learned—as much as one can learn from a book—all about diapering and feeding and burping, about the Back to Sleep campaign and the Ferber method and Dr. Spock’s advice on soothing a teething baby. He was ready for the tremendous change that was going to come into their lives.
He was not, he was realizing, quite so ready for the changes in Jane. She had entered pregnancy as if entering a cocoon, protecting herself from the newly perceived dangers in the outside world. Caffeine. Mercury in fish. Bacteria lurking in seemingly benign slices of lunch meat or rounds of Brie. He watched her sometimes, when they were sitting in front of the television or when they went out to dinner, and on her small sharp features he could see evidence that she was pulling herself inward, girding herself for the battle she and the baby were going to wage against the world.
Now, in her seventh month, she had emerged from the cocoon into something altogether more brittle and unknowable, despite the new roundness in her breasts, the swell of her belly underneath the smart maternity pantsuits she wore to work.
They were on the New York State Thruway now. Jane opened her eyes and said, without turning her head toward him, “You should call them.”
“I will, when we get a bit closer.”
“I will, when we get closer.”
“We just don’t want to show up there without any notice.”
“Why? Who needs notice? They’re always asking us to come up for a weekend. Every week I get an invitation. It will be good for you, you’ll see. We’ll do the sights of Burlington.”
Jane, a lifelong New Yorker, snorted. “Such as they are.”
“Such as they are!” he said ebulliently. “I’ll take you to a cheese farm or something. Give you a taste of country life. We’ll eat samples!”
“I can’t eat soft cheeses.”
“Well, then, the Ben and Jerry’s factory. Free samples there too.”
She laughed, reluctantly. “Still. I don’t think they mean for us to show up without telling them first. Anyone wants notice before having overnight guests. Just call them. Please? Stephen? I don’t want to just… arrive. I already feel conspicuous, dragging this belly around. I look awful. I don’t want to show up uninvited on top of it. You know how your mother makes me feel—”
“We’re always invited. A standing invitation. And I think you look beautiful,” he said loyally. (He did think so.) “And my mother loves you to pieces.” (She didn’t.) But he relented, and said, just before Jane closed her eyes to fall properly asleep, “Fine. I’ll call them. In just a few minutes. Promise.”
But they hit a dead zone and his phone first lost reception, and then it lost its charge altogether, and they were making such good time that the act of stopping to find a pay phone seemed, in this day and age, anachronistic to the point of being foolish. So he just drove on and beside him Jane slept, her lips parted, a slight wheezing sound coming from her nose, both hands laid protectively over her belly.
“Hello,” Stephen said softly to the baby inside her, the baby he couldn’t quite picture but whom he already loved deeply, devotedly. “Hello, you little life-changer. Hello, thunderstorm.”
Excerpted from The Arrivals by Moore, Meg Mitchell Copyright © 2011 by Moore, Meg Mitchell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
a great summer chick lit read! Did I enjoy this book: I did enjoy this book. While it was on my currently reading list for awhile, once I got into the book, I could not put it down. I read it every free chance I had and finished it in about a day. It was great chick lit! Out of the three siblings, I didn't like Lillian at all. I can understand that she was hurt and betrayed but she didn't have to take it out on everyone. She didn't even tell her parents why she and her children basically moved in with her. Then she felt put out when other issues hit her siblings. UGH! That bugged me. Rachel was a good character. I wanted her to succeed. I wanted her to find her path and something true for her. Stephen and Jane were great characters as well. They made a fantastic couple and embodied current family planning dynamics. Would I recommend it: I would recommend this book. It was a great read and I think it would be a great summer, beach read. Will I read it again: I'm not sure. It isn't a book that I will read every year but I may read it again in a few years.
This is a debut novel for Mrs. Moore and I for one, cannot wait to see what else she has in store. I enjoyed the interaction this family shared and how they all came home one by one. While we know why they are there, it is revealed to other members of the family slowly. All of the children are wrapped up in their own problems, but at the same time they are able to come to realize that supporting their siblings is important as well. Ginny and William (parents) take it all in stride. I cannot believe the amount of patience they showed. If I am remembering the story correctly, I read this awhile ago, I am not sure that they had any warning that their kids were coming - and they sure weren't expecting them to stay for the summer! Looking back on my own life though, there was a couple of times that I found myself back at my mom's for an extended stay of a month or two and we got along quite well. I hope that in the future I could extend that hospitality to my own kids (of course, they have to move out first!)I enjoyed this book, I do remember that - that it was an easy read - one that I looked forward to getting back into. I think it would be a good book for book clubs as there is lots of discussion material revolving around family relationships, troubles, and how to solve/deal with them.
A fun easy to read family story. Perfect for a quick summer read.This story addresses parenthood in different stages - the empty nesters who find their nest full again, the loss of a child, the trials and joy of pregnancy and first time parenthood, the strain young children can put on individuals and parents. I found a lot to relate to in the book.A good debut novel. I look forward to reading more by the author.
Life in Burlington, Vt. seemed peaceful to retirees Wm and Ginny Owne. Then their eldest daughter, Lillian, informed them that she and her two children, ages three and an infant, were coming to their home and that she needed a break from her husband.Overnight, the tranquel home turned into a jumble of childrens clothes and toys, awkward moments when Lillian would nurse the aby and Lillian's temper changes. The situation became even more chaotic when the Owen's son, William and his seven month pregnant wife, Jane arrived unannounced for a weekend visit. After a trip to the hospital and the doctor's recommendation of bed rest for Jane, their stay became prolonged. Rooms changed, a pull out couch was activated and the house was suddenly crowded.The youngest child, Rachel, also has difficulties and called her parents for help.The Owen's family's personal journey through this turbulent time is interesting to read. The author adds humor and empathy that the parents share with the children as each child needs nourishment in different ways.The story is realistically told and the novel basks with literary flavor as we understand William and Ginny's realization that parents' responsibility to their children doesn't end when the children leave home and it is important for the children to have a safe place to go to when things are not going well.
Funny and heartwarming in a comforting sort of way, The Arrivals explores what happens when a retired couple's children all come home to roost again.Ginny and William are living a quiet and contented retirement when, one by one, their adult children begin to arrive back home. First comes Lillian with 3 year old Olivia (asking endless questions) and infant Phillip, but her husband is nowhere to be seen and no one dares ask how long she and the children might be staying. Then Steven and his pregnant wife arrive for a weekend visit, until complications with the pregnancy lands ambitious, driven Jane in bed rest indefinately. Lastly Rachel shows up, physically and emotionally exhausted from trying and failing to make a life for herself in New York. As the summer wears on the household bulges with too many people and too many problems. Can Ginny and William keep it all together and get their children back on track?Meg Mitchell Moore gently probes at family relationships, how the change and mostly how they stay the same in this entertaining and sweet story. The characters are all likeable in their own way and I enjoyed how they revealed different sides as the stroy progressed. 3 year old Olivia, caught in the middle, will steal your heart as she tries to figure out what is going on and, in the end, shows everyone with startling clarity what is truly important in life. An enjoyable read.
As parents we raise our children to adulthood and launch them into the world hoping that they have learned to stand on their own two feet and will be happy. And once we send them out into the world, we want them to come home to visit, briefly filling the empty nest with life and noise and chaos, before heading back into their own grown-up existence. But as children, when things aren't going well and it's all we can do to hold it together, we turn first to our parents, even after we are grown. In Meg Mitchell Moore's debut novel, empty nest parents welcome their children and grandchildren home only to discover that the children are struggling and intend to stay for a while. Going from two quiet older people to a house packed with 6 adults and 2 small children, life changes very quickly and Moore captures it in all its messy reality in this well-written and charmingly perceptive novel. First to come home to Ginny and William is oldest daughter Lillian. After discovering that her husband cheated on her, she packed her three year old daughter and new infant son into the car and headed home to her parents. To them and to the inquisitive Olivia, she's only said that she has come home for the summer for vacation, prefering to nurse her broken heart and to feed her anger in private but still within the comfort of her family circle. Next to descend on the home in Vermont is son Stephen and his very pregnant, workaholic wife Jane. Not wanting to be gone from home too long, they intend to only stay the weekend until Jane has a scare, is put on bed rest, and told to remain in Vermont at Ginny and William's, where Stephen will have to defend his desire to be a stay at home dad and Jane will be forced to scale back on her job even as she tries to head off a work crisis and to come to a better understanding of her mother-in-law all from the excruciatingly boring state of bedrest. Last to drift home the summer of the full house, is youngest daughter Rachel, the baby of the family who has lost her capacity for joy. She is on the verge of crumbling both emotionally and financially, not entirely knowing what she wants out of life but being too saddened and dissatisfied to think much into the future. With all these disparate people living in tight proximity, even if it is a very loving proximity, tensions simmer and erupt as each person's needs and habits rub up against the others. Moore has captured beautifully the mixed emotions of such a situation. She has drawn characters who are are completely true to life facing everyday sorts of challenges and yet they are never mundane or boring. Their struggles are universal and completely relatable. As they all face the life they've chosen, each character is lucky enough to be cared for and loved by the others, allowed room to breathe even if they occasionally irritate and annoy each other. Precisely what families are best at. Most of all, the summer of unexpectedly communal living allows each of the characters to grow, to come to an understanding or acceptance of his or her situation, and to decide where to go next. It allows them all to find contentment in the present and weather the bumps in the road as just what they are, merely bumps in the road of life. Moore has written a delightful, entertaining, and positive novel. She captures beautifully the tensions among a family where members really do love each other most of the time. The dynamics between parent and adult child are spot-on. And her ability to portray the mixed emotions of empty nesters who have happily welcomed grown children home only to find they miss their quiet and ordered life is fantastic. This is not so much a domestic drama as a skillful, accurate portrait of modern life.
THE ARRIVALS Meg Mitchell MoorePublished by Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and CompanyThe Hachette Book GroupISBN 978-0-316-09771-0At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion. Synopsis: It's early summer when Ginny and William's peaceful life in Vermont comes to an abrupt halt. First, their daughter Lillian arrives, with her two children in tow, to escape her crumbling marriage. Next, their son Stephen and his pregnant wife Jane show up for a weekend visit, which extends indefinitely when Jane ends up on bed rest. When their youngest daughter Rachel appears, fleeing her difficult life in New York, Ginny and William find themselves consumed again by the chaos of parenthood - only this time around, their children are facing adult problems. By summer's end, the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility, exposing the challenges of surviving the modern family - and the old adage, once a parent, always a parent, has never rung so true. My Thoughts and Opinion: Having recently started my own chapter of being an empty nester, I was quite interested in the premise of this book. And along that line, I definitely could relate to the parental characters in the novel. It was very easy for me to, what I call being "transported", into the story line and become part of this family. Which was quite surprising due to the fact that this was the debut novel by this author. There was a situation, where the patriarch character became so frustrated that he finally lost his patience, because his house had been so transformed into a mess. Another plight I could relate to. And how the parents attempted to treat their children as the adults that they were. Except these adult children, never took into consideration that they were giving their parents their responsibilities and problems instead of dealing with them as the adults they were. I felt that there were some family dynamics, and this is only my opinion, that did not resemble real life. The timeframe occurred over a few months, and during that time, it was never stated to the parents why their children appeared "back home". I enjoyed this book due to the story line of the novel, but also felt that it was predictable. No matter what the rating this book gets, like the synopsis states, "once a parent, always a parent". My Rating: 3
from Lilac Wolf and StuffI'm going to gush. I think this would be classified as "chick lit" but I would call it "just a story" which is my favorite kind of story. Ginny and William have settled into their retired life together when their adult children return home with their children, pregnant spouses or just alone. The house is filled to busting and William and Ginny take turns being annoyed by it. I loved this, because that's how it usually goes in a relationship. It's a good way to support each other.Which leads to the other reason I adored this story. Each character is human, realistic. No one is all good or all bad, you WILL get annoyed with every character in this book. I find that more engaging than characters that are sweeter than a cupcake.And there were numerous plot points, or story lines. Some I sort of knew where they were going to end, but even then it was a fun ride with nothing truly known for sure until it ended. There is lots of sadness, anger and tons of hope.It also clearly paints a picture of what it's like when you want to be a parent, when you are waiting to become one, when you are one and when your kids are all grown. I think it was a brilliant way to play out not only a great story, but a sneaky way to play out a 30+ year timeline.
One of those unique books about the workings of families that makes you want to call your own and tell them how much you love them! With different reasons to return home, three adult children find themselves all under their parents roof with their own kids in the mix. The drama quickly follows! I am intrigued by birth order and how that affects families. As a first born, I easily related to Lillian and her quest for perfection, no matter what situation she found herself in. The other character that struck a chord with me was the mother, Ginny. I could see my mother in her or her in my mother - it made this book even better than I could have imagined. I love family dramas, but this one was above the rest because the drama wasn't over the top - it was pitch perfect. Each reader can see a characteristic from their own family in this one. This book was my first by Meg Mitchell Moore, but I am already a huge fan.
I'm going to gush. I think this would be classified as "chick lit" but I would call it "just a story" which is my favorite kind of story. Ginny and William have settled into their retired life together when their adult children return home with their children, pregnant spouses or just alone. The house is filled to busting and William and Ginny take turns being annoyed by it. I loved this, because that's how it usually goes in a relationship. It's a good way to support each other. Which leads to the other reason I adored this story. Each character is human, realistic. No one is all good or all bad, you WILL get annoyed with every character in this book. I find that more engaging than characters that are sweeter than a cupcake. And there were numerous plot points, or story lines. Some I sort of knew where they were going to end, but even then it was a fun ride with nothing truly known for sure until it ended. There is lots of sadness, anger and tons of hope. It also clearly paints a picture of what it's like when you want to be a parent, when you are waiting to become one, when you are one and when your kids are all grown. I think it was a brilliant way to play out not only a great story, but a sneaky way to play out a 30+ year timeline.
Review by Kate: I was very interested to read this story, as our three girls have just recently left for college¿what do I have to look forward to? While the premise of this story is a good one, and at first I loved it, I found that the author tried to tell too many stories at one time, and didn¿t allow the reader a chance to really feel anything for any of the characters. This story should have been a character driven plot, as the action of the plot was almost non-existent. There were several different things happening to many different people, but the story didn¿t give any character a real chance to tell their story. Most of the characters, as mentioned, didn¿t really have a chance to be fleshed out. The parents were non-intrusive as to why their eldest daughter shows up with her two small children and parks on the den¿s sofa. The three-year-old Olivia sounded more like a seven-year-old with her speech patterns, and the only time she really acted like a three-year-old is when she went off to pout. The mother felt threatened by her son¿s wife, and didn¿t know how to handle her, so was constantly criticizing, which seemed a bit out of character. You wonder why the priest was still a priest. The only character that I had any real feelings for was Rachel, the youngest child, who was 29 years old and feeling like a failure. The author¿s style was also a little choppy as well. While reading the story, it was sometimes hard to distinguish between that was going on at the moment and what was flashback. The author tried to give the back story in the middle of a conversation (several times) and that affected the flow of the conversation. It seemed that the author was more into the flow of the story near the end, but then it was time to wrap it all up rather quickly and get all of the children out of the house at the same time. I didn¿t really get the sense of ¿the family gains new ideas of loyalty and responsibility¿ ¿ they just stumbled upon resolutions quickly and off the kids went and the parents were left with a quiet, and clean, home once again. The Arrivals was an adequate read with no real depth of character, a small plot and choppy storytelling. I wouldn¿t be able to recommend it to any group of readers. There is no one strong element of the story that would make it perfect for any one group. There was no romance in it, just problem after problem, and then a quick resolution. Is it telling that the book has the year 2008 in it, but was not published until 2011? Favorite Quote: "It¿s not that he cheated, but that he thought of a life without me."
This is a debut novel for Mrs. Moore and I for one, cannot wait to see what else she has in store. I enjoyed the interaction this family shared and how they all came home one by one. While we know why they are there, it is revealed to other members of the family slowly. All of the children are wrapped up in their own problems, but at the same time they are able to come to realize that supporting their siblings is important as well. Ginny and William (parents) take it all in stride. I cannot believe the amount of patience they showed. If I am remembering the story correctly, I read this awhile ago, I am not sure that they had any warning that their kids were coming - and they sure weren't expecting them to stay for the summer! Looking back on my own life though, there was a couple of times that I found myself back at my mom's for an extended stay of a month or two and we got along quite well. I hope that in the future I could extend that hospitality to my own kids (of course, they have to move out first!) I enjoyed this book, I do remember that - that it was an easy read - one that I looked forward to getting back into. I think it would be a good book for book clubs as there is lots of discussion material revolving around family relationships, troubles, and how to solve/deal with them.
I enjoyed this book for the simplicity of the storyline but I found myself unable to identify with the matriarch of the family, Ginny. Perhaps it is because I sense that a woman (the author) cannot possibly know the range of emotions a mother feels of having adult children until she has them herself. I found Ginny too standoffish towards her children in the beginning. I think I understood her better towards the end of the book, but I struggled. The characters I connected with were the father William, the son Stephen, and the daughter Rachel. The daughter Lillian left me cold and unfeeling for her...even her situation. I don't know why.
Three adult children converge on their parents in June and stay for the summer. Their baggage includes a crumbling marriage, a newborn, an adorable three-year-old, an endangered seven-month pregnancy, and a heart-broken, financially-strapped daughter. The storm of problems in one summer is unlikely, but the author draws the reader into the lives of the characters and makes it believable. Both Ginny and William Owen lovingly welcome them. When everyone is sleeping, Ginny stands contentedly, remembering the past safe cocoon of their home. She "relishes every ounce of heavy, satisfied silence, drinking it like a nectar." As parents, William and Ginny express anger at the sources of their children's unhappiness; they help them financially and emotionally. Ginny, however, voices the worry that her life's work has been a failure because her children may not be capable of living on their own.of being happy. Happily, the summer successfully closes with newfound hope because of the support of their parents, siblings, and friends. Adult readers will relish the poignancy of constant love for their children - no matter their ages. Young adults may realize an appreciation for loving, supportive parents, for their own places in their parents' hearts, and for the description of the challenges ahead.
Funny and heartwarming in a comforting sort of way, The Arrivals explores what happens when a retired couple's children all come home to roost again. Ginny and William are living a quiet and contented retirement when, one by one, their adult children begin to arrive back home. First comes Lillian with 3 year old Olivia (asking endless questions) and infant Phillip, but her husband is nowhere to be seen and no one dares ask how long she and the children might be staying. Then Steven and his pregnant wife arrive for a weekend visit, until complications with the pregnancy lands ambitious, driven Jane in bed rest indefinately. Lastly Rachel shows up, physically and emotionally exhausted from trying and failing to make a life for herself in New York. As the summer wears on the household bulges with too many people and too many problems. Can Ginny and William keep it all together and get their children back on track? Meg Mitchell Moore gently probes at family relationships, how the change and mostly how they stay the same in this entertaining and sweet story. The characters are all likeable in their own way and I enjoyed how they revealed different sides as the stroy progressed. 3 year old Olivia, caught in the middle, will steal your heart as she tries to figure out what is going on and, in the end, shows everyone with startling clarity what is truly important in life. An enjoyable read.