The author of the Sword of Culann trilogy presents her readers with a long, discursive novel, rewarding them with one memorable character. In a Maine fishing community, battle lines have been drawn between gentrifying new residents and older year-rounders who are less concerned with ocean views and property values. One of these is Gramary, a tough woman who has held her family together by welding--literally and figuratively. Merkka loves Gramary, the grandmother whose name she bears, but longs for a nicer house than Gramary's eyesore by the tide-flats, littered with remnants of Gramary's welding efforts and the focus of the community dispute. As Merkka hesitates in choosing sides, Gramary's artistic talents are revealed--but almost too late; Merkka begins to understand her, but Gramary dies of a stroke. This complex story is filled with characters who go in and out of focus and with flashes of clear, evocative writing that then flatten into murk. Only Gramary holds this together; and strong as she is, she's not quite strong enough.