Harper, Jun 2008, $13.95
Just after WW II ends in Provincetown on Cape Cod, wannabe thirtyish poet Toby Maytree and college student Lou Bigelow meet. Though an author, Toby struggles to get his tongue straight as he is unable to put together two coherent thoughts let alone sentences. Still she senses something deep inside his soul; they relish the dunes, fall in love and marry. A few years later they add a son Pete to their perfect family.
However, their idyllic life together ends when a cheating Toby leaves his wife and son to go be with his lover in Maine. Two decades later, a tragedy brings Toby and Lou together for the first time since he left his family behind. They poorly coped with his desertion. Feelings between the pair remains strong, but love proved weak the first time around.
The key to this fine family redemption drama is Annie Dillard avoids values pointing in order to make a “guilty” verdict re her flawed characters; instead she leaves that to readers to decide who failed at relationships and why. No action, this is a purely character driven tale of paradise lost and paradise regained maybe; as a wiser Toby, Lou and Pete finally understand life is a journey to death.