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life­long hunger for her mother’s love un­der­mines her own early mar­riage, which ends in a be­trayal that is uniquely painful, but that also be­stows an un­ex­pected and life-sal­vaging com­pen­sa­tion.

The novel moves in lit­tle leaps, back­track­ing here and there to fill in fam­ily his­tory, oddly way­ward at times about its tenses but con­stantly fore­stalling crit­i­cism with a sud­den im­age that is daz­zling in its im­me­di­acy and right­ness – like the dead fox “smeared on the road like a bro­ken jar of jam…”. Grace’s di­ag­no­sis with can­cer taxes the dy­nam­ics set up in child­hood as her now adult chil­dren, all var­i­ously dis­ap­pointed by the way adult­hood has treated them, try to ad­just to her new need­i­ness and to their im­pend­ing loss. This is a novel that grows on the reader as Grace’s ill­ness brings the char­ac­ters into sharper

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