Dew returns to the Scofield family of Washburn, Ohio, in this disappointing sequel to The Evidence Against Her (2001).
The author fast forwards 20 years to focus on the mid-life/mid-20th-century evolution of Agnes Scofield, the outsider who previously married into the Scofield family. Agnes’s beloved but often depressed husband Warren has died in a car accident that she secretly fears was a suicide she could have prevented. Left to raise her four children without the financial resources she expected, she’s become a teacher to maintain their big house. At the start of WWII, her three sons enlist and her daughter takes a job in Washington. Feeling lonely, she carries on a tepid affair with her childhood friend Will and adopts a dog. Though she misses her children, when they return all at once in 1947, she finds readjusting to a full house difficult. Dwight, actually Agnes’s brother but raised as her son, has married the daughter of Robert and Lilly Butler, who figured so prominently in the earlier novel but barely register here. Agnes entertains a brief concern that Dwight’s father might have been a Scofield, in which case his marriage might be incestuous. Her son Claytor brings home a wife from Mississippi whose innocent outspokenness sets local tongues wagging. Daughter Betts shocks Agnes by falling in love with and marrying Will. But she adjusts as she must. Despite her privately held disappointments and frustrations, she loves her children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, the author tells her story from too polite a distance.
Dew never finds a way past the blandness of her nice characters’ lives.