Perkins’s transcendent newest (after Novel About My Wife) tracks the dysfunctional Forrest family across the globe and through time. The book opens in New Zealand with the father directing the young children—Dorothy (aka Dot); her older brother and sister, Michael and Eve; the youngest, Ruth; and the unofficial additional family member, Daniel, whose troubled home life leads him to the Forrests—in a strange home movie whose poignancy is revealed late in the novel, though the author’s descriptively rich prose and sense of scene (“The sun shone through stacked, strangely cornered dark clouds, and down the street an empty parking space glittered with window glass, like shattered mentholated sweets”) drives the story on. Life unfolds with unexpected turns, tragedies, romances, and revelations as the Forrest children—with a focus on Dot—tumble into the complicated world of adulthood. The gravity of Dot’s first love for Daniel is never far from her mind, and Perkins knows how to artfully reveal her characters’ inner machinations as they cope with whatever comes their way. Agent: Georgia Garrett, Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Agency. (Aug.)
“Transcendent… the author's descriptively rich prose and sense of scene drives the story on…Perkins knows how to artfully reveal her characters' inner machinations as they cope with whatever comes their way.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This timelessly true tale will appeal to discerning readers of literary fiction.” Booklist
“Perkins has a remarkable ability to capture the joys and angst of each stage of life, from the stings and sorrows of rejection and loss to feelings of ineptitude, boredom, and desire to the sustaining love of family…recommended for fans of family sagas such as those by Anne Tyler and Zadie Smith.” Library Journal
Family is the subject of Perkins's fourth novel (after Novel About My Wife), which is set in New Zealand. Dorothy Forrest grows up in a commune with childlike parents and siblings that include a boy, Daniel, who shows up one day and never leaves. Dorothy falls hopelessly in love with Daniel, a wanderer who seems incapable of commitment, and becomes estranged from all of her family except sister Eve. Told mostly from Dorothy's point of view, the book follows Dorothy's life from age seven through marriage and motherhood and into old age. Perkins has a remarkable ability to capture the joys and angst of each stage of life, from the stings and sorrows of rejection and loss to feelings of ineptitude, boredom, and desire to the sustaining love of family. While some of the characters, especially Daniel, remain puzzling, the portraits of Eve and, especially, Dorothy are rich and realistic. VERDICT Recommended for fans of family sagas such as those by Anne Tyler and Zadie Smith.—Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC
A novel that highlights the triumphs and vicissitudes of the Forrest family, primarily Dorothy, who both lives her life and tries to make sense of it. Sisters Dorothy, Eve and Ruth--along with their brother, Michael--have affectionate though spotty memories of their early life in New York, but while the girls are still young the family moves to Auckland, New Zealand. They soon meet 13-year-old Daniel, whose life will intertwine with theirs for the next 50 years, for he will eventually become both Eve's and Dorothy's lover. The life of the Forrests plays out in both conventional and unconventional ways. When the children are still quite young, for example, the mother takes them to a "wimmin's commune" for some rest and relaxation, where they meet earth mother Rena. As a young adult, Dorothy marries Andrew, an artist, while Eve marries Nathan, seemingly a "safer" choice since he's an accountant. Along the way, both couples have their marital ups and downs and occasional infidelities, but Eve dies at a relatively early age, leaving several young children behind her. As Robert Frost reminds us, however, "Life goes on," and so it does for the Forrests. The kids grow up, Dot grows out of love with her husband, and almost always lurking in the background is Daniel, occasionally messed up by drugs but always charismatic and electrifyingly attractive to Dorothy. Eventually, Dorothy becomes a grandmother, and even toward the end of her life feels the lure of Daniel, for she discovers he has become the primary relationship in her richly indulgent life. Perkins writes with soft beauty and brings out both the serenity and the strains of growing up, growing old and facing the lives we've made.