Vivid descriptions and characterizations sweep readers into the bleak and hopeless existence of a married couple trapped in the moldering ruin of a farm due to health issues, economic circumstances and their own bad judgment. Although well-written with an interesting plot, the prevailing despair makes this a difficult read. The suspense takes second place to the thought-provoking relationship analysis.

Howard and Deborah were back-to-the-landers and some 30 years later are still living on their decrepit farm. Having failed at pottery, weaving and running a B&B, the couple is just scraping by when Howard suffers a debilitating stroke. Deborah is overwhelmed trying to maintain the farm while being Howard’s caregiver and is relieved when Theo, a mysterious young man, shows up and offers help and companionship. Howard suffers from Deborah’s neglect and Theo’s casual cruelty, causing him to make a greater effort to become more independent. The couple’s somewhat estranged son makes an appearance via emails and becomes increasingly concerned with the lack of contact from his parents. (DELACORTE, Dec., 352 pp., $25.00, 9780385342766)

*Web Exclusive Review*

Reviewed by: 
Joyce Morgan