Howard Norman, widely regarded as one of this country’s finest novelists, returns to the mesmerizing fictional terrain of his major books—The Bird Artist, The Museum Guard, and The Haunting of L—in this erotically charged and morally complex story.
Seventeen-year-old Wyatt Hillyer is suddenly orphaned when his parents, within hours of each other, jump off two different bridges—the result of their separate involvements with the same compelling neighbor, a Halifax switchboard operator and aspiring actress. The suicides cause Wyatt to move to small-town Middle Economy to live with his uncle, aunt, and ravishing cousin Tilda.
Setting in motion the novel’s chain of life-altering passions, and the wartime perfidy at its core, is the arrival of German student Hans Mohring, carrying only a satchel. Actual historical incidents—including a German U-boat’s sinking of the Nova Scotia–Newfoundland ferry Caribou, on which Aunt Constance Hillyer might or might not be traveling—lend intense narrative power to Norman’s uncannily layered story.
Wyatt’s account of the astonishing events leading up to his fathering of a beloved daughter spills out twenty-one years later. It’s a confession that speaks profoundly of the mysteries of human character in wartime and is directed, with both despair and hope, to an audience of one. An utterly stirring novel, this is Howard Norman at his celebrated best.
Download and start listening now!
"This book was very touching. Wyatt Hilyer's parents had jumped off different bridges on the same night with in hours of each other. They were both romantically involved with the same woman who was a switchboard operator and an expiring actress. What a base for a story I thought, so I checked it out. At the time of his parents death, Wyatt was seventeen. He dropped out of school and moved in with his Aunt and Uncle. He became an apprentice to his uncle learning to make sleds and toboggans. He tells his story in a series of letters written to his daughter. His life is full of sadness. This book is worth the read."
Pam (4 out of 5 stars)