Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty

Fern and Edgar are married with three beautiful children. It is the summer of 1976 and they are spending it at their beach house on Martha’s Vineyard. Each day is an idyllic version of the life they were meant to live. Edgar has spent the last decade pouring his heart into the writing of a novel, his life’s work. Fern has happily spent each moment being the mom that her mom didn’t know how to be. These are days filled with sailboats, sand between toes and pots of lobster. The money from Fern’s wealthy family allows them these luxuries. One morning when the phone rings the family lawyer informs Fern that the estate her parents left when they recently passed away was not as she imagined. It is all gone. All the money is gone. Shocked but not as destitute as one might believe, Fern quietly turns to Edgars parents who will happily fund their lifestyle, only catch being that Edgar must come work at his father’s steel company. They will be forced to live the bourgeoisie life Edgar abhors. The couple tears apart at the seams, each to evaluate their life decisions and take unexpected journey’s in opposite directions - both thinking the other is home with the children. Left to their own devices, the children live in a fantasy world in a teepee in the backyard filled with orphan catchers and wild Indians. This novel is beautifully written. Each chapter flips back and forth between the present 1976 and ten year’s prior when Fern and Edgar were at the beginning of their relationship. While it explores the “anti-money” ideal and the depths that a marriage can survive, this novel also touches on motherhood, the Vietnam War and feminism . The main characters, none the least bit admirable, are extremely entertaining. I found the end dragging me to the finish line but I was already deeply immersed and am still thinking about them the day after. Interesting beach read with a lot to digest in a “what if” riches to rags (sort of) dilemma.

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