A young mother navigates the secrets her handsome husband seems to be hiding after his brother commits suicide in Swanson’s (The Bookseller, 2015) second novel.
It’s 1960, and 21-year-old Angie Glass is deliriously happy with her handsome husband, Paul, and their 6-month-old son. Angie’s idyllic Wisconsin existence is interrupted when she receives a phone call from Paul’s 17-year-old niece, Ruby, who claims that her mother, Silja, is missing, and her father, Paul’s brother, Henry, was found dead in the woods nearby. Angie insists on accompanying Paul to Ruby's home in Stonekill, New York, a modern glass structure that belies that darkness that has descended on the family. Ruby is not the emotional wreck Angie expected. In fact, she’s not doing much talking at all, but she sure seems to be trying to play her Uncle Paul and Angie against each other. Mysteries abound: where exactly is Silja? Supposedly she left a note, but her whereabouts are a mystery, and who is the older man Ruby has been spending time with? Henry’s death is officially ruled a suicide, but of course Swanson begins dropping hints early on that it might not be that simple, and nothing is what it seems. The story is told from the perspectives of Ruby, the Pollyannaish Angie, and Silja—but most of Silja’s tale takes place in the 1940s and '50s after her quick courtship and marriage to Henry. Although the author does her best to capture the social upheaval and change in these time periods, especially in how the war changes Henry, the characters just aren’t that interesting, and there’s only so much a reader can take of Angie and Silja, and even young Ruby, enduring the controlling, moody Glass men…until they don’t. By then, readers may not care.
More soapy than suspenseful.