A period novel—set in 1934—that examines dark secrets in a fading Rhode Island family.
The Dodges are well off (Old Money), though patriarch Samuel Dodge has been trying to reopen a family-owned textile mill that had been closed because of changing economic circumstances. His daughter, narrator Anne Dodge, is more interested in building boats with long-time family friend Ezra than in any business interests. A college graduate, Anne has yet to decide what she wants to commit to and is bitter that her Portuguese mother Inêz has run away from the family. Anne’s bitterness is somewhat sweetened when Maria Cristina, her 12-year-old half-sister, unexpectedly turns up. Anne develops a curious relationship with her sister—she’s in equal measure affectionate and irritated by her, especially when Maria Cristina constantly thrusts herself into every aspect of Anne’s life. And while there’s no doubt about the identity of Maria Cristina’s mother, the identity of her father is problematic—Ezra? Or perhaps even Samuel Dodge himself? Anne’s life becomes complicated when Oliver Fielding, a young and attractive entrepreneur, starts showing interest in investing in the mill as well as an interest in Anne. Further complications arise when a combination of social idealists and thugs protest Samuel’s plan to “exploit” local workers.
First novelist Drew draws a careful portrait of both social and family problems.