The basis for the Netflix Film Things Heard and Seen
“This literary thriller's complex narrative involves a cursed house, an unsolved murder and impeccable writing.” —The New York Times Book Review
Recent transplants to the small town of Chosen, New York, the Clares have not received the warmest welcome; once a thriving dairy farm, their home is haunted by the tragedy that left the former owner’s three sons orphaned and adrift.
Late one winter afternoon, professor George Clare knocks on his neighbor’s door with terrible news: he returned from work to find his wife, Catherine, murdered in their bed. Someone took an ax to her head while their three-year-old daughter, Franny, played alone in her room across the hall.
As one dark secret peels away to reveal others—and as the Clare marriage reveals itself to have a sinister darkness that rivals the farm’s history—Elizabeth Brundage offers a rich and complex portrait of the scars that can haunt a community for generations and the dark longings inside each and every one of us that drive us to do inexplicable things.
Brundage's (bestselling author of The Doctor's Wife) searing, intricate novel epitomizes the best of the literary thriller, marrying gripping drama with impeccably crafted prose, characterizations, and imagery. In 1978, Ella and Calvin Hale respond to their farm's failing fortunes by committing suicide. As their sons, Eddy, Cole, and Wade, are taken in by nearby relatives, their farmhouse in upstate Chosen, N.Y., is bought by outsiders. College professor George Clare, his beautiful wife, Catherine, and their toddler, Franny, buy the house and seem picture-perfect, but appearances deceive. George, an expert in Hudson River painter George Inness (an actual figure, whose artistic theories and Swedenborg-influenced philosophy run through the novel) is a dark soul with a young mistress and a violent history; insecure Catherine takes his abuse until the women's movement helps empower her to leave him. Then George appears at a neighbor's door, announcing that he has found Catherine murdered in their bedroom. Though locals blame him, the crime remains unsolved. Seen as cursed and haunted by its dark history, their house sits abandoned until 2004, when Franny, now a surgical resident, re-encounters painful memories and her former babysitter Cole Hale on a trip to empty it. Moving fluidly between viewpoints and time periods, Brundage's complex narrative requires and rewards close attention. Succeeding as murder mystery, ghost tale, family drama, and love story, her novel is both tragic and transcendent.
All Things Cease to Appear
I highly enjoyed about a third of this book. It was so poetic and the way the characters unfolded was truly beautiful. But as a previous reviewer stated, the conclusion did not do justice to the rest of the book. It seemed so rushed and haphazardly put together which made me wish I didn’t read the book to begin with because I was so unsatisfied with the seeming lack of care for the latter part of the story.
This is one if the best novels I've read in a long while. Poetic. Brilliant.