In this deeply-felt first novel, Canadian author Wright counterpoints the complexities of grief--as a newly widowed mother and her two daughters work through their resentments toward the dead husband/father (and toward each other) before reaching acceptance, growth, and mutual trust. Mourning the death of English professor Ted, his widow Margaret recalls their courtship, marriage, and the arrival of first child Sarah, who brought a small yet distinct imbalance to the marriage: Margaret could not completely ""banish the irritating notion that Ted's proximity to her had been slightly, indelibly, eternally, altered""--especially since it was the inexplicably special closeness between Sarah and Ted which caused him to insist Margaret give up her career to stay at home. Sarah, too, remembers being Ted's ""favorite,"" preferred over younger sister Glynis: she sees ""a kind of structure in her family that set her mother and Glynis on one side and Sarah and her father on the other."" But Sarah also remembers her father's raging rejection when, attracted to teenage schoolmate Michael, she experimented with sex. So now, after Ted's long, agonizing death from cancer, Sarah is tortured by the unresolved relationship: desperately she attempts a kind of exorcism through sex with Michael and broods at the cemetery. . . while Margaret cools her feverish plans for a return to her acting career and Glynis finds security in Margaret's love. And, finally, Sarah pursues her dead father in their empty house, reaching a mystical reunion with his ""presence""--""faint but clear, like a distant night bird singing to itself in the dark."" Despite some over-energetic prose and the dimness of Ted's character: an honest and appealing foray into the dark layers of family bereavement.