Danny Ahearn and Linda Dubie grow up in the
same town north of Boston. As teenagers, Danny is an ugly boy, hook-nosed, with narrow-set eyes,
and unattractive, while Linda is “the most beautiful girl on the strip”. Danny rose to stardom on the strip, as a DJ
as he possessed “big pipes” and became known locally as Danny “The Sound”
Ahearn. Fatal attraction turns in to wild jealousy and a constant fear that
Linda will leave him. He has allowed his
own insecurities to dominate their relationship, and gets in to scraps and
fights with other people.
Linda for her part does not always take his
side and this only adds fuel to his rage.
In a moment of utter madness Danny fatally
stabs Linda in the presence of Susan their three-year old daughter. Danny goes
to prison and Susan is raised by her maternal grandmother, Lois. Lois herself is a strong character but who remains
very bitter about her daughter’s tragic death. Decades later when Danny who now
prefers to be known as Daniel, is dying, he seeks solace in the presence of his
daughter, who he has not had contact with since that tragic day decades
earlier. Susan, now a lecturer at a University is married to Bobby who is kind
and understanding but is not fully aware of all of what Susan has struggled
with, and her memories of that day.
The author, Andre Dubus
III, fills in the back story with plenty of flashbacks about Susan’s
promiscuous youth and Danny’s life in prison, and Lois’s hardened attitude to life. He paints with perfect clarity an alarming moment, a mistake when
all three parties are just too frightened or too weak to make things right
again. Edging the reader to the cliff, Dubus weaves a hypnotic spell in this
richly detailed story of an elderly woman carrying the ghost of her dead
daughter, the father who regrets his crime and the disenchanted granddaughter desperate
for forgiveness but not quite knowing why.
entire cast is vividly drawn, perhaps most impressive is how Dubus elicits
sympathy in the reader for Danny, whose life effectively ended the moment he
picked up the knife.
This is a
compassionate and wonderful novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. At almost 500
pages it is not a novel to be rattled through.
Available in hardback reserve your copy here