Four siblings discover truths about their late mother, a troubled artist—and themselves—in this “uplifting, immensely empathetic novel” (The Guardian).
Gifted painter Rachel Kelly lived a life of manic highs and suicidal lows. Her husband, a gentle, devout Quaker, gave her a safe haven where she could create and be herself, but her mental illness still took its toll on her family. Now, after a fatal heart attack, a retrospective of Rachel’s work attracts art lovers who marvel at her skill, but her grown children are busy coping with the shattering effects of her death—and her life.
Her eldest son has been bequeathed a letter that shakes him to his core. Another son reflects on the years he spent trying not to upset his mother’s delicate equilibrium while negotiating his own relationship with his lover. The youngest son was much beloved by Rachel, for reasons not everyone knows. And Rachel’s only daughter seems to have inherited her talent—but also her demons.
Set against the wild and beautiful landscape of Cornwall, this novel by the acclaimed author of A Place Called Winter and A Perfectly Good Man shifts back and forth in time and place as it moves effortlessly between characters, offering a revealing window into the symbiotic relationship between genius and mental illness and the effects both have on maternal love and the creation of enduring art. In the words of Armistead Maupin, “few writers have grasped the twisted dynamics of family the way Gale has. There’s really no one he can’t inhabit, understand, and forgive.”