Well into their 70s, Winnie McClelland and wealthy Jerry Trevis have fallen in love, causing consternation among their extended family. Jerry’s daughter, Annette, in particular, feels financially threatened when her newlywed father moves from Chicago to a small town in New York State, where he’s purchased the largest, most ostentatious house in Hartfield for his bride; worried that her inheritance might go to Winnie’s family, Annette sues to freeze her father’s assets. Meanwhile, Winnie’s daughter, Rachel, has asked her new stepfather for a sizable loan to help deal with her ill husband’s overwhelming health-care bills. Annette’s son, Avery, a recovering drug addict and promising young chef, is also looking to Jerry for the resources to start up his own restaurant. Further conflict arises from Winnie’s plans to cut down a historic tree for a new front-yard swimming pool, a move that threatens to alienate the entire town. Tedrowe exhibits some beginner’s awkwardness in her debut, particularly in her self-conscious euphemisms for septuagenarian sex, but shows great promise in her compassionate, nuanced depiction of love—among the old and young alike—and her confident handling of alternating, multigenerational narrators. (July)
“So fantastic. This is the kind of book you would imagine Virginia Woolf might write were she with us is the 21st century: relevant and contemporary, relentlessly funny, deeply insightful, and fearless in its exploration of people’s private lives.”
Love and money struggle for control of a modern family's affections. In her wonderfully cohesive debut novel, short-story writer Tedrowe graduates to elegant novelist with a winding, convincing familial drama about the ties that bind and the bonds that bend to the breaking point. The book opens on a small-town wedding in June, the stuff that rural newspapers love, as 78-year-old Winifred Easton McClelland prepares herself for marriage to powerful Chicago mogul Jerry Trevis. From her first steps into the story, Winnie is the most winning member of a multifaceted cast, a widow who has found love in the winter of her life. "She was marrying a man for the delicious and wicked and simple reason that she wanted to," Tedrowe writes. Jerry, too, is a splendid fiction, a stubborn old rogue with a soft spot for his girl and her challenging children, but one with a mean streak when it comes to his own rebellious offspring. Jerry's wealth and his old age soon inject chaos into this very extended family. Who stands to lose? First and foremost, Jerry's daughter Annette, who launches a power struggle with her father for control of the business empire. The mogul shows a soft spot for Winnie's daughter, Rachel, whose acceptance of a loan from her new stepfather only serves to hide the failures of her lazy and financially incompetent husband. But no one stands to gain more than Jerry's grandson Avery, who reminds the old man of his lost brother so much that the recovering addict and high-rolling chef stands to get it all. Tedrowe unfurls all of this familiar, troubled interplay via the perspective of a specific character in each chapter, and while Avery garners an unfair share of the spotlight, the author's deft handling of a large and distinctive cast should win raves from those who revel in this sort of ensemble crazy quilt. A lovely and literate family drama that wins bonus points for its sincerity and open-hearted delivery.