In a Cape Breton mining community, an inter-racial marriage yields a travesty of family secrets among the three daughters and their parents. The eldest and most beautiful daughter pursues an operatic career. The middle child becomes staid and proper filling the care-taking role. Loving the limelight and the attention, the youngest sells her piano-playing and comedic talents in a dead-end club.
Many of the members were easily drawn into the book but found it depressing.
We covered the realism of these family secrets:
Materia’s delightful character over two events such as praying that her husband would not come home and hoping for a death telegram, her coming to life as a pianist while James was away, her understanding of James’ weakness, and her frightful dilemma over which child to save in the context of religion and as a parent;
James’ hateful personality, his efforts to get killed, his different occupations, and his relationships to his wife and children;
Kathleen’s relationship with her maestro, her diary, and Rose, and her father’s destruction of her strong will;
Frances’ hidden memories, her drive to entertain, her pursuit to get pregnant by a Black American, her surveillance of her grandfather, and her personality change after the birth of her child;
Mercedes’ perception of Lily as a saint, her actions to hide the family’s secrets, and her depiction of the family tree;
and finally Lily’s background, her journey by foot to New York and her relationship with Rose.