Anne Rivers Siddons
Grand Central, 2011
Thayer Wentworth was the second daughter of a wealthy Middletown, Georgia, family. She was her father’s favorite daughter and adored him in turn, but he died when she was nine in a car accident coming home from the family camp on Burnt Mountain. Thayer grew up feeling like a disappointment to her mother, who has led an unsatisfying and unhappy life in a small Georgia town. Thayer felt as though she wasn’t as beautiful as her mother or her older sister, and therefore a failure in love and in life – until she attended a summer camp on Burnt Mountain as a counselor and fell in head over heels in love with Nick Abrams.
Thayer and Nick swore eternal devotion to each other, but teenage love is a fickle thing. After his promised phone calls never came, Thayer grieved for her lost innocence and love and went away to college. Her beloved “Grand,” her father’s mother, funded her college education and when she died, left her a sort of fairy house in Atlanta for her and her new husband to live. Aengus was a professor of Irish mythology at the same college, and he and Thayer married despite the obvious disapproval of Thayer’s mother. But something happened when they moved into the fairy house: Aengus changed. At first he just went to the camp at Burnt Mountain to tell Irish stories, but soon he was spending every spare minute at the camp. Just what was going on up there, anyway?
Reviewers have called this novel uneven and odd. I call it mesmerizing and haunting and a little scary. I loved the beginning about Thayer’s parents and her early years. Then I got hooked when Thayer’s father died and she went away to camp to try to escape the harsh judgment of her mother. I was happy for Thayer when she found herself happy at college and somewhat recovered from her tragic love affair, and I believed Aengus was the one for her. But I absolutely could not put the book down when—well, I can’t tell you about that part because it will spoil the ending. I just could not put the book down until I finished every last word. And it was way past my bedtime.
This author has many novels available at the Mesa Public Library. Go to mesalibrary.org to check them out!
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