Elizabeth Brundage is a brilliant novelist with an unfailing eye for the detail or word that will make a moment resonate and expand in the mind. It's what every great dramatist has in abundance. This new book is a riveting examination of how the past haunts the present, but beyond that, it is a relentless and powerful study of evilof the forces that are loosed in our all too human attempts to love each other and find love. It is very moving and completely involving and I couldn't put it down. You won't be able to, either.
Even if she wraps up the plot a bit too neatly, [Brundage] holds interest with artful descriptions of the Berkshire seasons and her mastery of the varying points of view. She captures the nuances of class and generational perspectives, from brothels, pit bull fights and a Pittsfield battered women's shelter, to the horse barns and cocktail parties of Stockbridge.
The Washington Post
Brundage's second novel concerns ugly secrets that lie beneath the glossy veneer of a wealthy town and popular school in the Berkshires, waiting to be exposed by three new arrivals: a sculptor, her son and a writing teacher who gave up his daughter for adoption many years ago. Thrillers often make great audiobooks, because they offer frequent heart-stopping twists and turns. But this literary thriller, with its careful, delicate writing and a slow buildup to a powerful, sudden-and fairly predictable-denouement, is less suited to audio. Despite Bernadette Dunne's considerable efforts, the reading drags from time to time. Mark Bramhall only voices the prologue; the remainder of the book belongs to Dunne, who ably evokes both genders and is particularly skilled with New England accents. Despite the slowness of the story and patience required of the reader, this is a satisfying audio experience. A Viking hardcover (Reviews, May 26). (Aug.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A creative-writing instructor returns to the Berkshires where the child he gave up for adoption lives with her wealthy and loving but very troubled parents. Iowa Writers' Workshop grad Brundage (The Doctor's Wife, 2004) slathers on the words in this thriller set in the Massachusetts exurbs, where former druggie Nate Gallagher, the son of academic parents, has been hired by Jack Heath, the headmaster husband of Nate's college classmate, Maggie. Jack is a piece of work. Having fled his last post under a cloud, he has rebuilt the reputation of The Pioneer School on the strength of his charm and the financial support of wealthy parents who are unaware that he is a wife-beater and whoremonger. Nate has taken the job hoping to finish his novel and to get a look at Willa, the daughter he and his AIDS-riddled, dying girlfriend Catherine drove from California and handed over to Candace and Joe Golding on a stormy night. What neither he nor anyone else in the town knows is that Pioneer board president and major donor Joe Golding makes his bucks producing porn films or that the elegant and rather shy Candace has a porn past. The Goldings have done a great job with Willa. She's a nice kid entering the moody phase of adolescence, beginning a little sexual activity with undiagnosed dyslexic Teddy Squire. The apparent serenity of the campus begins to shatter when the headmaster's abuse and some anonymous notes push his wife over the limit; Teddy Squire is given a DVD containing scenes from Candace's darkest days; and a Polish prostitute whose customers include Teddy and Jack threatens to tell all. Uneasy mix of romance, Grand Guignol theatrics and literary gushing.
"[A] deft balancing act of taut plot and richly drawn characters. . .Brundage is a storyteller supreme."
"Riveting...very moving and completely involving. . . Brundage is a brilliant novelist."
"Brundage has a penchant for turning topical subjects into gripping novels...Sex, drugs, violence and murder are all in the Brundage mix."
-The Washington Post
"[A] well-turned thriller. . . Brundage writes with startling clarity."
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"A taut tale of suspense rounded out with sharp observations on parenting, adoption and the fraught business of keeping up appearances."
-New York Observer