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It's 1942, and the Porters are coming back to Ashaunt, Mass., the piece of the New England coast they've always come back to, no matter that the Army is building barracks and viewing platforms there. Graver (Awake) opens her fourth novel with a beautifully evoked glimpse of the very first arrival at Ashaunt-that of the Europeans-and the native people's eventual sale (or, alternately, "bargain, theft, or gift") of the land. She then moves omnisciently and believably through the minds of Bea, the Porters' Scottish nanny, and the wild Helen, the oldest daughter. As 1942 gives way to 1947, 1961, then 1970, and finally 1999, Graver also moves fluidly across time, all on this same beloved piece of land. Bea is a wonderful character, and Graver is incredibly good at evoking past, present, and future, and the ways in which they intersect. Unfortunately, the latter sections of the book, which focus mostly on Helen, no longer a wild girl, and her adult son Charlie, aren't quite as strong, perhaps because the issues of generational strife, blowback from drug use, and land development are more familiar. That said, Graver's gifts-her control of time, her ability to evoke place and define character-are immense. Agent: Richard Parks, the Richard Parks Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* For generations, the wealthy Porter family has sought refuge in its vacation home at Ashaunt Point along Massachusetts' rocky coastline. It's a place where Helen and her siblings can run wild and free under the watchful eye of Bea and her fellow coterie of Scottish caregivers. All is well until WWII erupts and an army outpost is installed nearby. Soldiers lure Helen to dances, seduce Bea into a hasty romance, and rob Helen's sister Jane of her innocence. Then word comes that her brother has been killed in action, and the world can no longer be held at bay. When Helen returns decades later as a young wife and mother, she tries to re-create Ashaunt's former simplicity for her emotionally fragile son, but the Vietnam war and the counterculture take their toll. At the end of her life, as cancer ravages her body, Helen finds Ashaunt equally threatened by environmental disasters and encroaching development, and the outrage becomes too much to bear. With a style and voice reminiscent of William Trevor and Graham Swift, Graver's powerfully evocative portrait of a family strained by events both large and small celebrates the indelible influence certain places can exert over the people who love them.--Haggas, Carol Copyright 2010 Booklist