Static first novel set in the same rural Pennsylvania town as Tudish’s story collection Tenney’s Landing (2005).
Her characters, though not unlikable, are far too plentiful. Matriarch Caroline Rownd keels over in the first chapter, leaving widower Nathan alone on the family farm. Their daughter Virginia returns to help out; Nathan’s injury in a tractor accident keeps Virginia and her teenaged son Randall there for the summer, but husband Rob has to remain home in suburban Maryland to work. Nathan has taken up with the objectionable Lydia Will, cook in the school cafeteria. Virginia, who used to call her Mrs. Swill, still dislikes her father’s new bride, especially when she learns that the couple plans to sell the farm and move into town. Virginia’s feelings for high-school sweetheart West Moffat are also unchanged, even though he’s married too. Now a trout farmer, West is no less attractive than when he was a teenage stud, prompting Virginia to lose her head and hit on a crazy scheme. With West’s senile grandpa along as chaperone, the pair travels to Iowa to buy a pair of gorgeous butter-colored yearlings. The horses belong to a special breed called American Cream, a favorite of Nathan’s, and Virginia hopes they will entice her father to stay on the farm. A hot affair erupts between Virginia and West; the unsettled Randall takes off with the local wayward girl desperate to locate her true father in Baltimore; and myriad other events occur—all related at a turtle’s pace while headed toward outcomes that are never in doubt.
Slow and character-clogged.