Against the backdrop of California brush fires in the 1970s, twelve-year-old Sylvia had agreed to hold a secret that would devour her family's dream of happiness. Read more...
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Against the backdrop of California brush fires in the 1970s, twelve-year-old Sylvia had agreed to hold a secret that would devour her family's dream of happiness. Now struggling to create a better life in small-town New England, Sylvia nonetheless feels caught in the coils of history: she confronts the embers of her dying marriage, the all-consuming needs of her two daughters and her faltering artistic career. Then Tai Rosen--the father of a student--ignites an unexpected passion and a familiar betrayal that could illuminate the past, even as it jeopardizes everything dear.
"Outside the Ordinary World" reveals what lies beneath the surface of infidelity. But at its heart, it is the story of the powerful, sometimes disturbing bond between mothers and daughters, and the shimmering line between self-revelation and self-destruction....
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-06-21
- Reviewer: Staff
A wife and mother burdened with a painful past and a dull marriage considers an affair in Ostermiller's derivative debut. Sylvia Sandon, a New England landscape painter of declining reputation who now teaches art workshops, has always been haunted by her mother's infidelities, and yet, during a period of frustration with her marriage--dormant sex life, the pressures and stresses of raising two kids--she become smitten with Tai Rosen, the slick New Yorker father of one of her students. Through a tiresome series of flashbacks, Sylvia relives her mother's long-running affair and sanctimonious religiosity, her father's brutality, and the final tragedy that tore the family apart. From this foundation, she tries to keep her own marriage intact and figure out what she wants. Unfortunately, Ostermiller never builds up much reader sympathy for Sylvia, and the depictions of faith, violence, and domestic unhappiness feel naïve. (Aug.)