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A year in the life of the members of the divided McKotch family, revealing their secrets and their conflicts The house by the sea held sepia-tinted family memories tight within its walls. Once a year it was dusted down, its windows flung open, the sound of laughter echoed throughout its rooms; this was the rhythm of family life. All that is about to change. When Gwen, the youngest child, is diagnosed with Turner's Syndrome, the family knows that her body will never grow to adulthood. Frank, her scientist father, is fascinated by the disease, while Paulette her mother is horrified. As they struggle to cope with the ramifications of Gwen's illness, her parents see the cracks within their marriage widen irreparably. Equally affected are their sons; one a successful lawyer in denial about who he is, the other whose search for himself and his need for his parents' approval has only resulted in a series of dead ends. Jennifer Haigh paints a brilliant portrait of a family idyll and its seemingly inevitable and painful disintegration in this stunning and thought-provoking novel.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780007225071
ISBN-10: 0007225075
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 130mm x 32mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: Harper
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publish Date: 1-Oct-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

US Kirkus Review » PEN/Hemingway Award winner Haigh's third novel (Baker Towers, 2005, etc.) focuses on the now disconnected members of a once close-knit New England family.The summer of 1976 is the last Paulette and Frank McKotch and their three children will spend together as a family at her parents' Cape Cod cottage before the house is sold and Frank and Paulette are divorced. Cold but needy Paulette, who dropped out of Wellesley to marry, and warm but self-centered Frank, a scientist and professor at MIT, are sexually incompatible - he wants more and she wants less. Their already shaky marriage falls apart when their 13-year-old daughter Gwen is diagnosed with a chromosome deficiency that keeps her from developing physically in puberty; Frank wants to pursue medical solutions while Paulette wants to protect Gwen from pain. Cut ahead 20 years to the mid-'90s. Frank and Paulette have never remarried. Both are painfully lonely. Bill, their oldest son, has become a cardiologist in Manhattan. He is in a genuinely loving relationship with another man, but he keeps his sexuality a secret from his parents, and completely avoids Frank, who always favored him. Youngest son Scott, the family black sheep, has fallen into marriage with a woman whose coarseness is portrayed almost as a moral deficiency. At 30, teaching at a mediocre private school, he barely supports her and their two children. Although he lives in nearby Connecticut, he too rarely sees his parents or siblings. At 34, Gwen still has a child's body. She lives a lonely life working in a museum. On a vacation in the Caribbean, Gwen falls in love with her guide. Paulette, a conventional snob and overly protective mother, sends Scott to find Gwen, setting in motion a chain of reactions that ultimately force each of the McKotches to reexamine their relationships with each other and with themselves.After the lovely opening, filled with genuine insight and touching lyricism, Haigh overly orchestrates her characters' lives. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Jennifer Haigh

Jennifer Haigh is the author of the critically acclaimed Mrs Kimble, for which she won the Pen/Hemingway Award, and a second novel Baker Towers was equally well recieved. She grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and now lives in Hull, Massachusetts. This is her third novel.

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