A lyrical first novel from Bacon (A Private State: stories, not reviewed) exploring the cycle of loss and renewal as it works
itself out in the lives of four generations of women.
The cycle begins with Margaret Evans, a bright, self-reliant young nurse in 1930s rural Saskatchewan. She tends a
seemingly taciturn Scotsman, Davis Campbell, when he falls sick, and almost immediately realizes he is a romantic kindred
spirit. Campbell had come to Canada in search of adventure. Instead he and Margaret settle down, run a successful farm, raise
a family—and die in an accident. Their daughter, Hilda, is just 18 when they’re killed, and, possessed of her father's watchful
intelligence and restless spirit, moves to Toronto in search of new possibilities. Her hopes of wandering farther are curtailed
when a brief liaison results in pregnancy. Her daughter, Danielle, is almost as resilient and independent as Hilda, who has
become a successful businesswoman. Danielle heads to Paris, where she meets and marries the charming, reticent, conflicted
Osman Harris. Osman, a half-Turkish, half-English dealer in Oriental rugs, finds that Danielle, with her calm certainty, provides
the compass he had lacked. When she grows ill and dies, grief-stricken Osman and their two children, Sasha and Sophia, feel
suspended, motionless. Osman moves them to Manhattan and buries himself in business, while Sasha spends most of his time
obsessively cataloging fugitive signs of natural life in the city: birds, plants, the occasional coyote. It's left to Sophia, 14, to
do something to draw her father and brother back into life, embracing it as her mother and grandmother did. She manages this
in a particularly deft, satisfying scene.
Bacon's prose is lyrical and exact. Her descriptions of the ways in which love compels risk in each generation are fresh
and moving, and her portraits of several complex women, each struggling to find her unique strength and identity while passing
on a sense of life's possibilities, is often exhilarating. A resonant, impressive debut.