In "Two Rivers", Vermont, Harper Montgomery is living a life overshadowed by grief and guilt. Since the death of his wife twelve years earlier, Harper has narrowed his world to working at the local railroad and raising his daughter, Shelly. Still wracked with sorrow over his loss and plagued by his role in a brutal, long-ago crime, he wants only to make amends for his past mistakes. Then one day, a train derails in Two Rivers and Harper finds a chance at atonement. One of the survivors, a pregnant fifteen-year-old girl, needs a place to stay, and Harper offers to take her in. But soon he suspects that Maggie's appearance is not the simple case of happenstance it first appeared to be.
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(210mm x 140mm x 27mm)
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Country of Publication:
US Kirkus Review »
Ghosts of his heartbreaking past visit a railroad worker in rural New England.A life marked by tragedy is the cornerstone of this Northern Gothic by Greenwood (Undressing the Moon, 2002, etc.). Narrator Harper Montgomery is a gloomy figure, beset by melancholy and struggling to raise his young daughter Shelly in a cracker-box apartment in the small town where he's lived most of his life. He's haunted, not only by the horrific wreck that killed his wife Betsy 12 years earlier, in 1968, but also by his involvement in a brutal crime referred to fleetingly in cryptic bridging segments. Harper's dismal life working at the freight office of the railroad station in Two Rivers, Vt., is interrupted by a terrible train crash. From the wreckage, Harper rescues a pregnant adolescent, "a girl with skin the color of blackberries," and takes her into his home against his better instincts. The terrified girl calls herself Marguerite Dufresne and claims to be fleeing to Canada after being raped in her Southern hometown. From this bleak starting point, Greenwood knits a densely woven sequence of events that finds Harper recounting his love affair with Betsy Parker throughout the '60s as well as the startling (and often implausible) misfortunes that befall their families, including the suicide of Betsy's mentally ill mother and a fire that devastates Harper's family. Along the way, he unravels the mystery of Marguerite's origins and begs forgiveness for the long-ago racial violation that spurred the suicide of one of Harper's childhood friends. Greenwood's novel features a satisfyingly complex romance and admirable storytelling momentum, but its fractured swing between passion and heartbreak make it a tough read. By the time the syrupy finale rolls around, the woebegone plight of its pitiful narrator has grown tedious.Overwrought context obscures a sweetly told love story. (Kirkus Reviews)
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