Liz, the older sister, is a Farsi translator who travels often to the Middle East, while Angie is a potter married to a professor and has two teenaged children. They are besieged by memories in the house, where their father, a charismatic Unitarian minister, committed suicide. Angie, who was in the house at the time, has not returned in the twenty-eight years since it happened. She suffered a breakdown and Liz worries that her illness could return.
The novel spans the week the sisters are in the house together. Both women evade revealing their current problems: Angie is worried about her daughter, who lives in a commune, and Liz is worried about her marriage, since her husband has threatened divorce. As the week goes on the sisters talk openly and begin to build trust. The crisis comes when the daughter, two hippie friends, and an elderly, judgmental aunt shelter in the house during a storm.
The parallel story concerns the father’s decline during World War ll and its affect on the sisters. As a pacifist, he anguishes over the horrors of the war, has an affair, and is voted out of his church. Deeply depressed by the death of his son, who is killed in action, by his wife’s death from cancer, and by the news of Hiroshima, he takes his life. The sisters confront this event together finally in the place where it happened, and although their own problems remain unsolved, they feel a new love and support for each other.
Ann McLaughlin grew up in Cambridge., MA and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1952. She received her Ph.D. in Literature and Philosophy from American University in 1978. She has taught for twenty-five years at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, where she is on the board.
If you're anywhere near the Washington DC area, be sure to catch one of her readings:
Sunday, May 16, 2 pm The Writer's Center, Bethesda
Sunday, May 23, 1 pm Politics and Prose Bookstore
Tuesday, June 15, 7 pm American University Library
More information at www.annmclaughlinwriting.com