Today’s feature is a new book I am eager to read: Count the Ways, by Joyce Maynard.
Toby was just a baby—Alison four years old, Ursula not yet three—the first time they launched the cork people. After that it became their annual tradition.
“She had it all,” Darla said. “Then she meets this guy and he takes her away and they start robbing banks. Next thing you know, she’s calling herself Tania and she’s on the front page wearing some damned camo gear, holding an M16.” (p.61).
Eleanor and Cam meet at a crafts fair in Vermont in the early 1970s. She’s an artist and writer, he makes wooden bowls. Within four years they are parents to three children, two daughters and a red-headed son who fills his pockets with rocks, plays the violin and talks to God. To Eleanor, their New Hampshire farm provides everything she always wanted—summer nights watching Cam’s softball games, snow days by the fire and the annual tradition of making paper boats and cork people to launch in the brook every spring. If Eleanor and Cam don’t make love as often as they used to, they have something that matters more. Their family.
Then comes a terrible accident, caused by Cam’s negligence. Unable to forgive him, Eleanor is consumed by bitterness, losing herself in her life as a mother, while Cam finds solace with a new young partner.
Over the decades that follow, the five members of this fractured family make surprising discoveries and decisions that occasionally bring them together, and often tear them apart. Tracing the course of their lives—through the gender transition of one child and another’s choice to completely break with her mother—Joyce Maynard captures a family forced to confront essential, painful truths of its past, and find redemption in its darkest hours.
A story of holding on and learning to let go, Count the Ways is an achingly beautiful, poignant, and deeply compassionate novel of home, parenthood, love, and forgiveness.
What do you think? I always eagerly anticipate books from this author.