May Sarton’s 7th novel is about marriage, family, life’s cycles, and the regeneration of love
Frances and Sprig Wyeth have come to the old Wyeth house in Maine for the summer. In a house filled with lively members of her husband’s extended family, Frances feels alienated from everyone, including Sprig. A night of passion breaks down the growing barriers between them, yet Frances feels it is more a “desperate moment of possession” than the true “flowing together of two deeply joined selves.” And although she’s the mother of two grown children, in many ways she still feels like a child, waiting to mature into adulthood.
Sprig adores his wife. But now, at 50, he both wants her and wants her to leave. He longs for freedom and is haunted by memories of his youth. His son, Caleb, is hostile; his unmarried daughter, Betsy, is pregnant. Sprig feels as if he is “walking in the dark,” and has begun to doubt himself as a husband, father, and friend.
The Birth of a Grandfather is the story of a marriage and a family, of friendship and the love that reminds us that we are alive and that we matter. It’s about the small domestic moments and the defining events that make up a life.