Troubled by the feeling that she belongs nowhere after working in East Africa for fifteen years, Frankie Rowley has come home home to the small New Hampshire village of Pomeroy and the farmhouse where her family has always summered. Read more...
Troubled by the feeling that she belongs nowhere after working in East Africa for fifteen years, Frankie Rowley has come home home to the small New Hampshire village of Pomeroy and the farmhouse where her family has always summered. On her first night back, a house up the road burns to the ground. Then another house burns, and another, always the houses of the summer people. In a town where people have never bothered to lock their doors, social fault lines are opened, and neighbors begin to regard one another with suspicion. Against this backdrop of menace and fear, Frankie begins a passionate, unexpected affair with the editor of the local paper, a romance that progresses with exquisite tenderness and heat toward its own remarkable risks and revelations.
Suspenseful, sophisticated, rich in psychological nuance and emotional insight, "The Arsonist" is vintage Sue Miller a finely wrought novel about belonging and community, about how and where one ought to live, about what it means to lead a fulfilling life. One of our most elegant and engrossing novelists at her inimitable best."
- ISBN-13: 9780307594792
- ISBN-10: 0307594793
- Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Inc
- Publish Date: June 2014
- Page Count: 303
- Dimensions: 1.25 x 6.75 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.34 pounds
Light my fire
Someone is setting fire to the houses of Pomeroy, New Hampshire, in Sue Miller’s latest novel, but that’s beside the point. The important thing is that Francesca “Frankie” Rowley has returned from a long sojourn in Africa as an aid worker and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. Besides, the thing that lights her fire is Bud Jacobs, the local newspaper editor whose life is just as up in the air as hers is. The two launch a passionate affair even as everyone else’s summer home is being torched.
But there are other things that concern Frankie, who’s a little, er, burned out from both the futility and tiny, ephemeral triumphs of her work in Africa. She’s moved back in with her parents and neither she nor they know whether the move is permanent. Moreover, her father, who has never been attentive to Frankie, her sister Liz or their mother Sylvia, is sinking into dementia.
Miller’s skill as a writer has always allowed her readers to stick with a story no matter how self-absorbed her characters are. Part of this success is because Miller (Lake Shore Limited, The Senator’s Wife) tends to focus on intelligent women forced to choose between passions and duties that seem irreconcilable. Should Frankie stay near her parents, who need her? Should she stay with Bud? Should she return to Africa, where she can do her best work and where there are no doubt other men waiting?
The Arsonist is a worthy snapshot of the dilemmas faced by certain women of a certain time and how they choose to tackle them.