He’s a bad boy from the trailer park; she’s a princess in small-town Vermont; but their electric connection spans class and time. Sound familiar?
The second-best thing that happened to young Roy Murphy was being sent to juvenile detention after firing a gun to scare off the drug dealer preying on his mother. The best thing was his magical 10-week teenage affair with Emma Herrick, the beautiful blonde daughter of Hoosick Bridge’s first family. In his fourth novel, Willett (Present Value, 2003, etc.) updates the star-crossed love story of Wuthering Heights, while adding dashes of Homer, Jane Eyre and a Band of Brothers–style camaraderie. The looping narrative, full of foreboding and forewarning, is at its strongest during scenes of Murphy’s five-year military term in Afghanistan. Returning, he learns of Emma’s father’s financial disgrace and suicide and Emma’s engagement to nice, preppy lawyer George. Roy now devotes himself to making money, so successfully that two years later he can buy Emma’s family home, the Heights, which he shares with Emma’s half-demented mother and George’s boho sister Izzy, who is now Roy’s occasional lover, until a mysterious fire redraws the landscape.
Too much wuthering, too few heights in a story which describes eternal passion but doesn’t give it life or a satisfactory ending.