One word: unexpected. In every what way, unexpected. It took an unexpected amount of time for me to finish this book: fault of a rigorous school semester. It took unexpected turns in unexpected places: although followed the pattern at other points. But the end, the end still has me thinking.
I finished the last fifty or so pages about a month ago, and I’m still thinking about it. How it ended, who the characters were at that point, I can see it all and how it all worked but it’s still sad and satisfying. If that makes sense. I am going to preface now though, this review will be full of spoiler alerts. So if you don’t want me to ruin it for you, I would just skip the end for the rating. Or I’ll just save you the time now, read this book.
Early twentieth century, the Wix family, colorful in personality and eccentricities, face worldly battle after worldly battle and other-earthly hurdles as well. With a father too charming for his own good and a mother blind to the present by future ambitions, the three Wix children rely on each other to mature, to learn how to grow up. The eldest son, Arthur, learns to become a man from his sister, Nancy, after a boating accident. Nancy learns how to love and cherish others from her brother, and a variety of friends. Cornelius, the middle child, finds his balance with the help of his siblings, even when the world seemed to take that luxury away.
Through World War I, the Wix family endured, to their best extent. Cornelius returned broken, taking on the pain from all of the wounded men he had helped. Arthur found a career where his new-found brazenness and brawn did some good, protected people. And Nancy was thrusted into the new century, the new era where women are whatever they want to be, whatever they can imagine themselves to be, and control not only their voices, but also their men. From a traditional household, the Wix family becomes an untraditional and modern family.
During moments of grief, the family, the familiar, shone. This is where I should admit that I had the wrong idea while reading. I thought this story was about love, the love shared between two consenting adults type of love, relationships, that one star we all hope to find but mostly just read about. And, in my defense, this story had all of the clues and dots for the reader to think that. You are supposed to think that, to devour all those moments between Nancy and Jake.
This is also the moment that I should admit that this book could have used another round of edits. There are paragraphs of pure description that just haunt the pace of the story and make it hard to devour. And when Jake comes into the picture, when he finally comes into the picture, things seem stalled once again. Moments can still be powerful without knowing every single detail of the setting or face, and at moments like these or even some of the tragic ones, it takes at least three more pages than it needs to be. I had the habit to keep checking the page length of the book while reading because I could not believe that this story was actually that long. Instead of five hundred pages, it could have been a strong three hundred.
But it did keep me thinking and for that I think it is a book to pick-up. Because, while you’re soaking up every minute of lust and love, you’re ignoring the parallels, the familial happy ever after. For the three Wix children have finally grown up and added to the family, found their family. For Arthur it was more traditional, but their happiness was strong enough for modernity as well. For Cornelius, companionship of a different nature healed past wounds. And for Nancy, she has her family and her, only her, addition. Just like her mother, Eliza, and that’s the connection that is all but forgotten while reading. However, that is not the fault of the author but of the reader. If you look back, there are clues, memories of Eliza and learnt stories about her once she passes.
This book ends on that connection, that focus, and only when you’re done do you realize the story’s true focus on family, on familial love. And for that purpose, the one that sticks in your head and has that hidden realm of thought aspect, do I think this book is one people should pick-up.
But, for the fact that it does have problems, I’ll only be giving it /5
It’s still a read to me though.