When Richard Walker dies alone, his estranged family comes to clean up his estate. The old homestead where the family once resided for more than 20 years brings up some painful memories, not only for his wife, son, and daughter, but for others who still linger inside the walls of the home — ghosts, in fact — with tragic memories and secrets of their own.
Alice and Sandra once lived in the Walker home, and have been trapped there for reasons that become clear as the story unfolds. They are disquieted by the arrival of the family, whom they remember. They are even able to communicate to a degree with son Trenton, who is confused by what he can’t understand, but believes is real.
This is a family haunted in more ways than one. Daughter Minna’s past holds a singular event that has rendered her incapable of holding on to anything meaningful in her life, whether it’s lovers or a job; only her own daughter gives her solace and proof of her worth. Richard’s estranged wife has never gotten over his betrayal, which holds more than she ever knew, and she has aligned herself almost completely with a vodka bottle.
A cataclysmic event in the end sheds light on the past of all who’ve lived there. But can revelation bring catharsis? This is a question that lingers, and will provide a centerpiece for conversation as book clubs discuss this and other questions of life’s tragedies and small triumphs.
Ecco/HarperCollins; ISBN 978-0- 06234-432-8 $25.99.