As bestselling author of the critically acclaimed masterpiece, Ordinary People, Judith Guest knows the subtle rhythms of family life. With a perceptive eye that captures the nuanced relationships of husbands and wives, parents and children, and the constant tug-of-war of sibling rivalry, she creates remarkably real characters struggling with profound dilemmas. Now, in her luminous new novel, Errands, Guest once again gives us an unforgettable family that finds the fabric of their lives unraveling.
North of Bay City, Michigan, past the small highway town of Au Gres, past acres of sugar beets and fields of grazing sheep, the Browner family enters the slow curve in the road that leads onto a view of Lake Huron. Keith, Annie, and their three children have rented the same cottage here every summer for the past six years. They know this place like the back of their station wagon. But a shadow has fallen over this particular trip: Keith is dying of cancer. It is a fate he has accepted. Annie however can not, will not.
Once safe inside a happy seventeen-year marriage, Annie finds her entire world turned upside down after Keith's death. Her sister, Jess, does her best to comfort Annie, only to find the boundaries of their own close relationship stretched to its limits. Consumed with grief, mounting bills, everyday tasks that seem insurmountable, and three kids that have become nagging sources of frustration, Annie fails to see that the family is beginning to come apart.
Thirteen-year-old Harry, the oldest, changes into a brooding teen, roaming the streets with a new rebellious friend; Julie, the youngest at nine, starts to lie about her whereabouts, but keeps a secret journal that reveals her true feelings; and Jimmy, sandwiched forever in the middle, can no longer take the pressure of being the peacemaker. As each child moves toward his or her own level of acceptance, a second threatening event will transform both the children and Annie, teaching them that, even with the loss of Keith, they are still a family--a different family, but one that is no less loving, real, and enduring than they had been with a father and husband in the house.
Searing in its depiction of despair, warm in its evocation of family and the fragile ties that bind them, and tempered with gentle humor and dazzling wit, Errands is nothing less than a triumph. Judith Guest strikes at the very core of loss, and has written her most extraordinary novel to date.
A MAIN SELECTION OF THE LITERARY GUILD(c)
AN ALTERNATE SELECTION OF THE DOUBLEDAY BOOK CLUB(c)
From the Hardcover edition.