Three couples struggle through tricky relationships in a novel “shot through with an offhand lyricism, snippets of wisdom, and a ready humor” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).
After her first year in college, Olivia de Havilland Hand returns home to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, amid tornadoes and the chance for rekindled love. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, her half-sister Jessie tries to keep her new marriage to immature King afloat as she plans for the arrival of their first child. The sisters’ lives intertwine with others as their father fears losing his two daughters, and Olivia’s anthropology professor has a tumultuous affair with a fellow academic. An interconnected web of relationships thrives against the backdrop of a world in transition in this literary rumination on the joys and sorrows of family and love from the National Book Award-winning author.
“Gilchrist’s distinctive, flowing voice keeps one engaged throughout.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Scattered from North Carolina to New Orleans, with outposts in Oklahoma and Boston, the Hands are forever bouncing up and down on the branches of the family tree to test its strength. As young members struggle for autonomy and older generations fight for control, alliances are formed, allegiances betrayed. And through it all, the Hands talk: to one another, to their psychiatrists, to themselves. In Starcarbon, Ms. Gilchrist has blended these resolutely individual voices to create a richly textured family fugue.”—The New York Times
“Gilchrist's marvelous storytelling gifts are abundantly lavished on her new novel, which continues the saga of the Hand family and its intricate network of kinfolk.” –Publishers Weekly
Gilchrist's marvelous storytelling gifts are abundantly lavished on her new novel, which continues the saga of the Hand family and its intricate network of kinfolk, who can be found scattered through Victory over Japan , Drunk with Love and The Anna Papers . Set in the summer of 1991, Starcarbon focuses on the younger generation of Hands introduced in I Cannot Get You Close Enough . Olivia, Daniel Hand's illegitimate daughter, returns to her Native American family in Tahlequah, Okla., to study Navajo and reunite with Bobby, the boyfriend she left behind when she schemed her way into her father's affluent lifestyle. Her half-sister Jessie is stuck in New Orleans with a new baby and a faltering marriage to the feckless King, the spoiled son of Daniel's distant cousin Crystal. Gilchrist skillfully makes these complicated relationships clear even to those who haven't read her earlier books by delineating sharply individualized characters. She writes with a distinctively Southern toughness about people who are selfish, demanding and often cruel to those closest to them, but who invariably gain the reader's sympathy with their total honesty and fierce need for love. Starcarbon, a ranch in Montana where Bobby worked, symbolizes the characters' longing for ``somewhere clean to be,'' free from the maddening bonds of family. Yet Gilchrist's multi-volume narrative, which grows deeper and richer with each additional book, compellingly shows how those bonds nurture as well as damage; her work offers a tart antidote to the rootlessness of so much American fiction.