A debut collection of 14 stories about reconciliation, isolation, and connection--with narrators, usually women, who are seeking to strengthen and understand their bonds to mothers and children. Many of the pieces here are set in the country, allowing Knox's characters to explore the nature they love and to possess the privacy they need. In the title story, a farm couple go on their annual coastal vacation to eat crabs and relax. Ella dreams of owning a boat and learning to use the intriguingly unfamiliar ropes and tools, but, in a bittersweet moment in bed with her husband, she realizes that they will ``always live among hills with tools she could name.'' In ``Marsh Island,'' Hallie's mother wills her and her daughter an isolated cabin on an island. Hallie, however, isn't eager to share the island; she had expected it to be hers alone. But, as she and her daughter free a fox from a trap, she understands that sharing will bring them closer together and that perhaps this was her mother's intention all along. The last three tales tell the same story from the point of view, in turn, of a grandmother, a daughter, and a granddaughter: Rebellious Flag (still called ``Iris'' by her mother, Gladys) leaves college to repair cars and live with her boss's son in a trailer. Her tart- tongued grandmother isn't too happy with this choice but feels Flag should be free to make her own mistakes. Housewifely, shy Gladys, meanwhile, is uncomfortable with her tomboyish daughter but comes around to her mother's view and resolves to change the ``tightness'' that constricts her own life. Only a few pages long, the stories often leave the reader wanting more--and Knox sometimes settles for obvious symbolism (a dog's death reminds a childless couple of their miscarriage)--but, still, a worthy start.