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The Why of Things
by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop

Overview - Since the tragic loss of her seventeen-year-old daughter less than a year ago, Joan Jacobs has been working hard to keep her tight-knit family from coming apart. But it seems as if she and Anders, her husband, have lost their easy comfort with each other and are unable to snap back from their isolation into the familiarity and warmth they so desperately need, both for themselves and for their surviving daughters, Eve and Eloise.  Read more...

 
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More About The Why of Things by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop
 
 
 
Overview
Since the tragic loss of her seventeen-year-old daughter less than a year ago, Joan Jacobs has been working hard to keep her tight-knit family from coming apart. But it seems as if she and Anders, her husband, have lost their easy comfort with each other and are unable to snap back from their isolation into the familiarity and warmth they so desperately need, both for themselves and for their surviving daughters, Eve and Eloise. The Jacobses flee to their summer home in search of peace and renewal, but moments after they arrive the family is confronted with an eerily similar tragedy: that same evening a pickup truck had driven into the quarry in their backyard. Within hours, the local police drag up the body of a young man, James Favazza.
As the Jacobs family learns more about the inexplicable events that led up to that fateful June evening, each of them becomes increasingly tangled in the emotional threads of James' life and death: fifteenyear- old Eve grows obsessed with proving that James' death wasn't an accident, though the police refuse to consider this; Anders finds himself forced to face his own deepest fears; and seven-year-old Eloise unwittingly adopts James' orphaned dog. Joan herself becomes increasingly fixated on James' mother, a stranger whose sudden loss so closely mirrors her own. With an urgent, beautiful intimacy that her fans have come to expect from this "bitingly intelligent writer" ("The New York Times"), Elizabeth Hartley
Winthrop delivers a powerful, buoyant, and riveting new novel that explores the complexities of family relationships and the small triumphs that can bring unexpected healing. "The Why of Things "is a wise, empathetic, and exquisitely heartfelt story about the strength of family bonds. It is an unforgettable and searing tour de force.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781451695755
  • ISBN-10: 1451695756
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: June 2013
  • Page Count: 305


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Family Life

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-06-10
  • Reviewer: Staff

A pickup truck careens into a water-filled quarry, killing the young male driver, in the backyard of the Jacobs family's home on Cape Ann, Mass. The family is already reeling from the recent suicide of its eldest daughter, Sophie, when their second daughter, Eve, becomes obsessed with discovering whether the truck's driver was another suicide, a murder, or an accident. Eve's father, Anders, helps her follow clues while her mother, Joan, tries to connect with the dead man's mother. Winthrop (Fireworks) reveals little about Sophie's life or death, aside from that she parked her car on railroad tracks. Joan blames herself for the suicide, though it seems impossible that the home environment is at fault. Winthrop writes beautifully about family bonds made solid by respect, kindness, integrity, and commitment, and it feels petty to disrespect their dignity by wishing they would reveal even a little bit more about Sophie's life. However, she crafts the family too precisely and ties their narrative threads too tightly. Towards the end, Winthrop doses each of her characters with a palliative, but insists that they, and the reader, must accept that sometimes you have to live without answers. It's an understandable sentiment, but an unsatisfying conclusion. Amanda Urban, ICM. (June)

 
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