author Rebecca Makkai has successfully done the opposite. She has started near the end, just prior to the turn of millennium and the threats of the Y2K bug. Zee and her husband Doug have returned to her childhood home and taken up residence in the former coach house.
For many years there had been an artist colony housed on the grounds, and Doug is obsessed with gaining access to their files. Somehow he must find a way past his secretive mother-in-law's guard. A fateful confrontation with her on New Year's Eve and a serious mis-communication leads to even more questions rather than the long sought answers. Once this time line draws to some reasonable conclusions, Ms. Makkai skips back in time to when Zee's parents first arrive at the house over forty years earlier. Once again, we are treated to some revelations but also to further questions. This process repeats back through the hundred year history of the house.
I have to admit that I really didn't like most of the behaviour of the modern residents. They all had secrets they were keeping and when they did talk with each other, they were poor communicators. More walls than openings.
Once we had travelled back to the arrival of Zee's parents at the house in 1955, I got more interested in what was happening. I still didn't find Grace and George to be likable people, but at least I could understand their behaviour. From this point, the secrets and the revelations just kept getting more fascinating and unexpected till the point where I could hardly put the book down.
It was interesting to have this look inside the artist colony and see the interactions between the various guests. I can imagine that such interactions could certainly spur their imaginations and output.
There was an intriguing sounding cocktail mentioned in the book, White Lady, and I had to verify whether it was a creation by the author or a real drink. It was easy to check and it certainly does exist. I love that mix of fiction and real.
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
one egg white (I'm going to leave this out)
Mix in a shaker with ice, strain and enjoy.
Thanks to Penguin Canada for use of the cover image.