One fam­ily’s jour­ney from death to life

RSWLiving - - DEPARTMENTS - BY DOUG GALLOGLY Doug Gallogly lives with his wife Jackie in Fort My­ers.

One fam­ily’s jour­ney from death to life

Ev­ery fam­ily has a his­tory, with mem­o­ries that are ei­ther com­fort or curse. It would be dif­fi­cult, how­ever, to find a more con­vo­luted and painful his­tory than that of Dea­con Thorpe. Here’s to Us, by Elin Hilder­brand (Lit­tle, Brown and Co., June 2016, $28), is the story of his fam­ily, and their strug­gle to ac­cept his death as they gather at his sum­mer cot­tage in Nan­tucket to scat­ter his ashes.

Dea­con Thorpe was a celebrity chef, com­plete with TV fame and a classy, high­priced restau­rant. Pub­lic ado­ra­tion can’t erase the pain of be­ing aban­doned by his fa­ther at 13 years old, though, and the drug and al­co­hol abuse that ended his first two mar­riages has left his third on rocky ground. When he dies un­ex­pect­edly, his agent con­tacts his fam­ily with his final re­quest: that they all gather for a week­end to say good­bye.

Un­for­tu­nately, the ex-wives and widow hate each other and the adult chil­dren each har­bor dark se­crets. But in a house full of re­lated strangers, se­crets won’t stay hid­den. Each chap­ter tells a piece of the story from one per­son’s per­spec­tive, and the reader bears wit­ness to their pain as well as their love for Dea­con Thorpe, the man whose per­sonal demons shaped their lives. The con­flicts es­ca­late un­til the mo­ment ev­ery­one sets out in a small boat to scat­ter Dea­con’s ashes, each con­sid­er­ing their fu­ture with­out him. Is there hope for any of them?

Elin Hilder­brand is a best-sell­ing author of nu­mer­ous sum­mer beach and ro­mance nov­els, and Here’s to Us is one of her best. Al­ter­nately funny and sad, it paints a touch­ing pic­ture of a celebrity’s life cut short, and the fam­ily’s need to re­build their lives. Hilder­brand doesn’t pull her punches, and the story is bet­ter for it, cap­ti­vat­ing her read­ers un­til the very last page.

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