J. Courtney Sullivan
Knopf, Jun 16 2011, $25.95
In 1945, former Navy officer Daniel Kelleher won a bet with a former shipmate Ned. To pay his debt Ned gives Daniel land in Cape Neddick on coastal Maine. Daniel and his pregnant wife Alice raise a family and over time the Maine estate becomes their summer home.
In the present, Alice the widower has become a drunk who holds court as she has since the Great War on the Maine estate as her family arrives for the summer. She internally rages over Daniel’s death turning him into a martyr while their sexagenarian daughter Kathleen blames her for all their woes. Kathleen's sister-in-law Ann-Marie is an inane harmless doll belonging inside one of those dollhouses she collects. Finally there is the thirty something peacemaker, Alice’s pregnant single daughter Maggie whose mom wants her to come to grips over what a baby means.
The cast is powerful as each of the four women seem real and different though they possesses a guilt streak longer than the East Coast as if it is part of their DNA. Daniel comes alive through how the quartet perceived him. Although the plot is somewhat thin, readers will enjoy three generations of females coming together as each seeks solace and redemption, but with Daniel dead none know how to commence achieving their respective salvation.