Fabulous Fiction Firsts #742, Michigan Home-Coming
Fri, 06/26/2020 - 12:00am by muffy
Battered and broke, Hope Wright arrives in the dead of night at the Orchard House, her late-mother’s family home in Northern Michigan with her daughter, a silent 10 year-old Tink in tow, both still traumatized by recent events. Their welcome is conditional - it’s cherry harvest, and they will work alongside Aunt Peg who runs the farm with Abel, a kind and quiet former marine.
The days are long and the work is back-breaking but the remoteness of the orchard allows Hope space and time to heal. Peg, with her own guarded secrets, is determined not to get emotionally involved knowing they would eventually move on. But in the meantime, she manages to draw out the sullen Tink by offering to show her how to shoot a rifle. As Hope and Tink look forward to making a home among new friends and family, their past comes back to haunt them.
The House of Deep Water is Grand Rapids native Jeni McFarland’s debut (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook), that “explores motherhood, trauma, love, loss, and new beginnings found in a most unlikely place: home.”
Three spirited women find themselves reluctantly returning to River Bend (MI), the small town they once couldn’t wait to escape. 30something Linda Williams leaves her upward-mobile corporate lawyer husband in Houston, hoping to reconnect with sisters Page and Skylar, who at 16, is living at Grandmother Dana’s farm. She could not explain why she immediately takes up with the much-older Ernest DeWitt, though she remembers his Casanova reputation around town.
Paula, Linda’s estranged mother, left her children 15 years ago to be raised by their step-father now returns to River Bend, to ask her long-abandoned husband for a divorce. Elizabeth DeWitt, one of River Bend's only black daughters and a mother of two, finds herself back in her father Ernest’s house when her marriage and career fall apart. When these three women find themselves sheltering under one roof, tension is high. And when Ernest suffers a stroke, the women are left to confront their past and paths not taken in order to find their way forward, and home.
“Just like life, McFarland's debut is big, messy, and complicated while also being a completely engrossing portrait of her characters and their hometown. She deftly weaves in issues of race and consent. Perfect for those who like books about family dysfunction, this would also make a great book discussion selection.” (Booklist) "McFarland's layered tale will appeal to readers who liked Tayari Jones's An American Marriage." (Publishers Weekly)
* = Starred review