- 14,99 €
Beth Powning offers readers an unforgettable story of love, grief and renewal — both past and present — as well as her extraordinary perceptions of the natural world.
At the age of fifty-two, Kate Harding has hit a crossroads: the pain that overwhelmed her when her husband died suddenly from a heart attack the previous year hasn’t diminished, and she is at a loss as to how to go on with her life. Living alone in her large Victorian house, its emptiness magnified by memories of better days, Kate can only dream of a time when her grief will abate, at least enough to allow her to hope for change.
When Kate’s sister drops off nine antique hatboxes of papers recovered from Shepton, their grandparents’ eighteenth-century home in Connecticut, Kate isn’t sure she is ready to face the remnants of her family’s past. She’s having enough trouble going through Tom’s things. Soon, though, the smell of the hatboxes — of her grandparents’ musty attic, of old quilts and satin ribbons — begins to permeate the air in her home and “awakens a feeling in Kate that she remembers from childhood, composed of odd emotional strands: love, sorrow, pain, contentment.” As she slowly sorts through the letters, diaries and photographs, Kate begins to find some solace in the past, in her childhood memories of Shepton when every home was a comfort, every relationship untinged by pain. But the further she delves into her grandparents’ history, the more Kate realizes that her perfect world had its own dark side — an undercurrent of tragedy, personal loss and eternal grief.
Then an old acquaintance moves back to New Brunswick, and Kate begins to edge out of her solitude, surprising herself by accepting his invitation to dinner. Gregory and his wife were friends with Tom and Kate when the kids were young, a time of camping trips and days at the beach. But Gregory, now divorced, is also carrying the weight of grief, from the suicide of his son many years earlier. At first, Gregory represents a chance for Kate to capture some of the simple joy of her past, but when she realizes that Gregory is still living in it, his memories and pain warped into self-destructive anger, she knows she has to back away. And when Gregory’s determination to return to the way things were proves unshakeable, a new tragedy forces Kate to begin picking up the pieces of her shattered life.
In this muted, measured debut, Powning captures the sorrow of a grieving widow as she revisits the past to heal present-day wounds. For 30 years, Kate's one constant has been Tom her husband and best friend. A year after his death, 51-year-old Kate, alone in her lovely Victorian house in the Canadian countryside, is still having trouble acknowledging that he's gone. Distraction arrives in the form of a number of hatboxes from her grandparents' attic, full of letters smelling of apples and smoke that take Kate back to the simplicity of her childhood and Shepton, the family's rambling Connecticut home. But when Kate reads of a family tragedy, she sees a parallel between it and her own sorrow, and she begins to work through her feelings. Meanwhile, she grows close to Gregory, an old family friend who can't recover from his son's suicide, though she struggles with her feelings of pity and disgust for him when he makes some clumsy advances. Only a final calamity forces Kate to finally let go of the past and to start living in the present. The novel's leisurely pace takes some getting used to, but Powning does an excellent job of portraying Kate's sadness, divulging the tales of her family and focusing on the quiet beauty of her surroundings.