“A thought-provoking multinational tale . . . [that] will challenge your crime solving skills and teach you lots about the Scottish Highlands.” —The St. Augustine Record
From a writer who’s been praised for her “intelligence, heart, wit” (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls), The Ice House follows the beleaguered MacKinnons as they weather the possible loss of the family business, a serious medical diagnosis, and the slings and arrows of familial discord.
Johnny MacKinnon might be on the verge of losing it all. The ice factory he married into, which he’s run for decades, is facing devastating OSHA fines following a mysterious accident and may have to close. The only hope for Johnny’s livelihood is that someone in the community saw something, but no one seems to be coming forward. He hasn’t spoken to his son Corran back in Scotland since Corran’s heroin addiction finally drove Johnny to the breaking point. And now, after a collapse on the factory floor, it appears Johnny may have a brain tumor. Johnny’s been ordered to take it easy, but in some ways, he thinks, what’s left to lose? This may be his last chance to bridge the gap with Corran—and to have any sort of relationship with the baby granddaughter he’s never met.
“Smith weaves their stories expertly, moving from Jacksonville to Scotland and back, from another disaster to a laugh-out-loud moment. Her tenderness toward her characters and subtle understanding of class differences in American society are reminiscent of such novelists as Richard Russo and Jennifer Egan, but this heartbreaking, heartwarming novel is an original.”—Tampa Bay Times
“A beautiful character-driven novel.”—Indie Picks Magazine
A spirited cast makes up the foundation of Smith's delicately spun story of family, loyalty, and the difficult choices people must make when forgiving someone. Johnny and Pauline MacKinnon spend their days trying to keep their Florida ice factory afloat as they skirt around the topic of Corran, Johnny's estranged son from a previous marriage. Corran is believed to have stolen his stepmother's ring to buy heroin, but is now trying to stay sober and raise his infant daughter in Scotland. Johnny is skeptical of the latest turn in Corran's behavior, but, after he is diagnosed with a potentially malignant brain tumor, he has to decide how to make use of the weeks leading up to his surgery. Johnny sets off for Scotland to find Corran, leaving Pauline behind to deal with the ice factory's legal and financial troubles. In a tiny cottage perched near a chilly loch, Corran battles his inner demons, unwilling to acknowledge his father's belated reconciliation attempts until fresh tragedy forces them together. Peppering the story with affecting interludes that trace the evolution of Johnny and Corran's relationship, Smith (Heart of Palm) majestically captures the urgency of reconnecting with a loved one when time seems to be quickly slipping away.