A weekend getaway takes an intense turn in Farewell’s (Hilda’s General Store, 2015, etc.) latest novel.
Bess and Mitt Blasdale own the Evergreen Inn, a haven for rest and relaxation in the picturesque Vermont countryside. A snowstorm foils their plans for a large house party, though a few hardy souls manage to make the trip. Bess’ old and dear friend, Sadie, drives down from Maine despite the blizzard, and Olivia Rathbone and her husband, Simon, are delivered by Gregg Galleon, a good Samaritan who rescues them after their car overturns on the road. The small group is snowed in at the Evergreen without phones or access to the outside world. Despite the weather, it should be an enjoyable weekend spent in the company of good food and friends. Unfortunately, it turns out that Gregg is Sadie’s ex-husband, a recovering alcoholic whose tryst with her sister ended their marriage. In addition, Bess reveals that she’s planning to leave Mitt and sell the inn, while Olivia and Simon constantly snipe at each other and quarrel over his post-retirement lifestyle. Tensions are high as the six snowbound inhabitants navigate around awkward silences, marital disappointments, and long-buried feelings of anger, sorrow, frustration, and loss. Sadie is adamant that she can’t forgive Gregg, but a dark turn of events causes her to rethink her position. Farewell’s novel feels much like a play as she skillfully sets the stage and populates her narrative with witty and complicated characters. The cozy Evergreen Inn is the perfect backdrop for scenes full of nuanced character development and well-scripted dialogue. Olivia, for example, is a Pandora’s box of judgment, ego, and hypocrisy who incessantly pecks at her retiree spouse. Yet Farewell manages to balance Olivia’s flaws with characteristics that render her admirable and even likable at times. Throughout the novel, the author provides ample opportunities for the characters to hash out their problems and air their grievances, peeling away the complicated layers of emotions like a chef with a sharp paring knife.
This insightful study of relationships is a party that’s not to be missed.