Just before Henry Aster’s birth, his father—outsized literary ambition and pregnant wife in tow—reluctantly returns to the small Appalachian town in which he was raised and installs his young family in an immense house of iron and glass perched high on the side of a mountain. There, Henry grows up under the writing desk of this fiercely brilliant man. But when tragedy tips his father toward a fearsome unraveling, what was once a young son’s reverence is poisoned and Henry flees, not to return until years later when he, too, must go home again.
Mythic in its sweep and mesmeric in its prose, The Barrowfields is a breathtaking debut about the darker side of devotion, the limits of forgiveness, and the reparative power of shared pasts. @goodreads
The story starts out reeling me right in from the descriptions of the old town rolling up the streets early. Not many people living there. North Carolina in the 1930's. There is just something about old towns I love.
Most of the people lived up in the mountains or in little houses or shacks.
So, I thought this was going to be it, a wonderful story about a town and the people in the blurb. Well, it's a little more complicated.
Henry, the son is telling the story. He talks about when his father was young and his grandparents. To be honest I wasn't sure when they would get to the part about him and his sister and all of the other stuff.
Henry tells of how his mother and father met and for the life of me I don't know how in the world they fell in love. You would have to read about the elder Henry in order to understand what I mean.
Henry's father brings his mother back to Old Buckram to live close to his parents because his mom isn't doing so good. He moves them into the creepy black house on the side of the mountain. But there is room below for her horses, so it's all good. This is where little Henry is born and later his sister Threnody.
This house has a dark past and no one ever found out what happened. There were parents and three children that lived there. One day the town found the parents dead and the children dead and buried so it's never been an easy house to sell. Nothing ever comes of that so if your thinking ghost story, don't. I was hoping but it didn't happen.
The children's father up and leaves them one day and never returns. I'm not going to tell you what happens to him. You find out later in the book. Something devastating happens that pushes him over the edge, so he leaves Henry and Threnody and their mom. I'm not going to tell you what that is either. But, elder Henry had many problems. He was a lawyer in the little town to keep money coming in but all he ever wanted was to write a book. He was a professor at one time, but the left all of that behind when they moved back to his home town. He never seemed happy and he never seemed to finish this book he has worked on his whole life . . . or did he?
This is a coming of age story about little Henry growing up with all of this tragedy and leaving his mom and sister to go to college. I was upset that he barely had any contact with them. He lived his life doing what he did and working. He eventually became a lawyer like his father even though that's not what he went to school for, he seemed to be following in his father's footsteps.
Henry meets a sweet girl named Story who has her own demons to fight. She comes into Henry's life at a moment I think he needed her most. It had just been Henry and Buller, his dog for a bit. I felt that Story helped him open up and get closer to Threnody again.
Did I mention Henry, his dad and Threnody loved reading too! A+ guys.
Anyway, I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. It's very sad and there are dark times, BUT, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
*I received a print copy of this book through BloggingForBooks.*