It's ten to two in the afternoon and I've been waiting for my little sister, Vivian since one-thirty. She's finally coming home at sixty-six years old, after an absence of over forty years."And so begins the tale of two sisters, Ginny and Vivian, reunited after a long estrangement. Ginny's been living in the family's sprawling Victorian home--now creaking and leaking, with a ghost of its lavish past lingering--and keeping mostly to herself. But Vivian's arrival shakes up her sister's carefully ordered world, bringing old memories and resentments to the surface. What dark, unspoken secrets are hiding in the family's past?We soon learn that Ginny and Vivian were born into a long line of distinguished lepidopterists, scientists who study moths and butterflies. Their eccentric father continued the family tradition, and was completely devoted to his work, spending long hours in the laboratory on the upper floor of the house and eventually apprenticing young Ginny as his assistant. As the years passed, his determination to make his mark in this elite field consumed the entire household. Ginny and Vivian's mother, lonely and neglected by her husband, descended into alcoholism and violent mood swings. And before long, rifts opened that may never be repaired. Now, so many years later, the sisters are drawn back into this stormy world of their childhood. But Ginny is ever observant of the present, wondering why her sister has returned, keeping track of her every move, refusing to accept Vivian's version of their past. As Ginny becomes more and more agitated, she turns to what she can understand and control: her beloved science. And, perhaps more like her father than anyoner ealizes, she finds herself tempted by the "most convenient solution." Told through Ginny's unforgettably eerie voice--both childlike and sinister--this is a haunting novel about passion, trust, betrayal, and a family that destroys itself in the name of love.
I have been done with this book for a couple of weeks and still I am unsure how I feel about it. Mostly I just am not sure how to review it. The above summary is magnificent in that it is really clear what this book about. I remained engaged to the end and I was left wanting more, however, not in a good way. There were some things that just didn't get answered. Not a good thing for a book that clearly has no chance for a sequel.
The science was a bit much for me, but I recognized its purpose as not only a methaphor for Ginny, but also as her family's profession and ultimately her safety net and one you understand that and an go with it, it's not so bad. At times, it's downright interesting. There are some interesting themes that get explored here, like alcoholism and co-dependence.
The narrative is a spooky and melancholy - no one reading this could ever expect a happy ending. I found this to be alternately, fascinating and depressing. Fascinating because, I was impressed by the author's ability to permeate the novel with the horrible feeling of foreboding throughout. Depressing because this horrible feeling of foreboding permeated the novel throughout.
Truly a unique novel, I can't recommend it highly, but it's not a waste of time either.