Absorbing parallel plotlines engage the reader quickly. Barclay's treatment of the mysterious artist Zachary is tempered with both wisdom and a harsh reality of his physical deformity. Though his journey sometimes eclipses that of Theo and Kim's daily life, the author easily draws attention back to the other plot. Lengthy and oftentimes bleak descriptions of the struggles of the
protagonists weigh the book down, but in the end, a hopeful and positive message emerges.

Down on their luck and unhappy, Theo and Kim Ryan are a married couple whose spark has long since died. Both are feeling the pressures of having little money and even less love. A mysterious inheritance from Theo's uncle will change all that in ways Theo and Kim could never imagine.

Instead of riches, it's the simple journal and sketches of artist Zachary Penn Scott that will reshape the lives and marriage of the protagonists in the 1950s. As they read about Zachary's life in the mid-1800s and his marriage to Gara, his inspiration, the past draws together Theo and Kim and makes them start to face their own marital issues. (Beaver's Pond Press, Sep., 397 pp., $16.95)
Reviewed by: 
Sarah Wethern