When Francie and Colt Hart drive past an abandoned 150-year-old farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, they both fall head-over-heels in love with it -- but for entirely different reasons. Colt, an ambitious, hard-charging stock trader, sees it as a potential showcase for his wealth. Francie, long dependent on antidepressants, hopes it will inspire her to resume the literary life she abandoned when she married Colt ten years before; perhaps, she thinks, it will save their faltering marriage. But the more they learn about the house, and especially the tragic history of its previous occupants (whose descendants are their new neighbors), the more it threatens to drive them apart.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
Better living through chemistry. That's what Francie Hart, the Stepford wife like protagonist of this melodramatic novel by Kowalski (Eddie's Bastard, etc.), thought she was getting by taking Benedor to treat her manic depression. But on a trip with her husband, Colt, from their home in Manhattan to visit their newly purchased country house, she runs out of pills. As the drug's effects wear off, Francie realizes that the chemicals had been stifling her natural creative powers as a poet, and that the life she was leading as a bored, wealthy urban housewife was unfulfilling. That shift in clarity is the linchpin of the novel, which chronicles the tense, awkward unraveling of the Harts' nearly 10-year marriage. Kowalski pumps up the plot by adding a parallel series of intense, often violent flashbacks focusing on the Musgroves, the family that built the Hart's country home 150 years earlier. Not even a whirlwind of outlandish developments from grave desecration and fratricide to space travel and kidnapping are enough to make up for the novel's one-dimensional characters, however. Colt is a comically arrogant stock broker, while Francie is the stereotypical tortured artiste who just wasn't made for this cruel world. Kowalski's vigorous storytelling will keep the pages turning, but it's hard to muster much sympathy for Francie and Colt's struggles and redemption.