Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Love Could Light The World by Anne Leigh Parrish

Anne Leigh Parrish's set of interconnected stories follows the Dugan family of upper New York state over several decades of their lives.  Lavinia and Potter married young, had five children and there's never enough money or attention to go around.  Lavinia is making the family's wages since Potter lost his job, and what started as a temporary situation is now set in stone.  It would be different if Potter kept the house and kids like she would, but he spends his days frittering time away and she comes home to have to do all the work there also.

There are three girls and two boys.  Angie, the oldest, is overweight and typically sullen, but is drawn to help those left out by society.  Timothy is brazen and energetic, but expects things to come easily.  The twins, who are sisters, are very different, and live in a world of their own, as twins often do.  The baby, Foster, has a sweet nature and is everyone's favorite.  Together they bump along, not really neglected but definitely without enough adult supervision and guidance.

The stories follow the course of Lavinia and Potter's relationship over the years, the awkward struggles of the children as they navigate the rapids of adolescence, projects started and never finished and the sense that life goes on whether it is the life we would have chosen or not.  There are other players in the Dugan family life.  Chip is Lavinia's boss who becomes part of the family.  Potter's sister Patty and her mate Murph play a role at different times even though they live in Montana. 

Readers who enjoy Elizabeth Strout's novels such as Olive Kitteridge will find a similar format here.  Lavinia is the keystone of the family and is a strong woman who lives a life she never expected when she was growing up.  The children all grow up with their individual issues, as children do.  Parrish illustrates the inner mechanism of the one social entity we all encounter, the nuclear family, whether broken or intact.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction and those interested in how families relate and work.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Thanks for being a part of the tour!