Perfect for fans of Rick Moody, Lauren Groff, and Celeste Ng, a propulsive literary breakout about three suburban families whose lives spiral dangerously out of control after tragedy strikes.
Who suffers when the privileged fall?
One frigid winter night, Mia and Michael Slate's comfortable world dissolves in an instant when they discover that their best friend has cheated them out of their life savings. At the same time, a few doors down, their teenaged son passes out in the snow at a party--a mistake whose consequences will shatter not just their family, but an entire community.
In this arresting, masterful page-turner shot through with fierce, clear-eyed compassion and a sublime insight into human fragility, award-winning novelist Proulx explores the savage underpinnings of betrayal, infidelity, and revenge--and a multilayered portrait of love, in all its glory, that no reader will soon forget.
Set in the quaint Canadian town of Old Aberdeen (a stand-in for Ottawa), Proulx's provocative second novel (after Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet) follows the rupturing of the reasonably idyllic lives of one family by the events of one traumatic evening. Mia and Michael Slate receive a grim visit from the accountant at Michael's property company and learn that his business partner has cheated him out of his share of the company's profits, plunging them into sudden bankruptcy. Several streets over at a friend's booze-filled house party, their teenage son, Finn, drunk and rejected by Jess, a family friend with whom he's locked in a forbidden affair, falls into a hallucinatory sleep ("my body gone, my heartbeat floating") in the snowy backyard. When he's found, his hand is so severely frostbitten that it must be amputated. This development, along with the bankruptcy, sends Mia, Michael, and Finn spiraling apart from one another. As layers are peeled back to reveal the underpinnings of that night, the Slates learn hard truths about chance and intimacy, and how even minor acts of vengeance can metastasize into tragedies that cause irreparable damage. Gorgeously written, Proulx's narrative offers a fascinating plot and both a searing exploration of the butterfly effect of trauma and the uncanny persistence of love in improbable circumstances.