I previously only knew the late critic as a critic, but in the post mortems on his career, this novel was mentioned. A deceptively simple tale of… not family dysfunction. Not really. I mean, yes, but not exceptionally so, not in this day and age.

There’s a paterfamilias who raises his two daughters after his wife left him. He is the primary figure whose thoughts we hear, but Wood likes to unexpectedly switch to one of his two daughters.

The set up is father and sister visiting the oldest daughter because her boyfriend warned that she was struggling badly (a history of depression and anxiety).

Everyone is well drawn and pace is simultaneously brisk and leisurely. The mood is well reflected in the two main settings: fading, formerly industrial Northumberland and snowy, cold upstate New York.