All Things Cease to Appear

All Things Cease to Appear

Book - 2016
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A dark, riveting, beautifully written book--by "a brilliant novelist," according to Richard Bausch--that combines noir and the gothic in a story about two families entwined in their own unhappiness, with, at its heart, a gruesome and unsolved murder

Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife killed and their three-year-old daughter alone--for how many hours?--in her room across the hall. He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at a nearby private college (far too expensive for local kids to attend) teaching art history, and moved his family into a tight-knit, impoverished town that has lately been discovered by wealthy outsiders in search of a rural idyll.

George is of course the immediate suspect--the question of his guilt echoing in a story shot through with secrets both personal and professional. While his parents rescue him from suspicion, a persistent cop is stymied at every turn in proving Clare a heartless murderer. And three teenage brothers (orphaned by tragic circumstances) find themselves entangled in this mystery, not least because the Clares had moved into their childhood home, a once-thriving dairy farm. The pall of death is ongoing, and relentless; behind one crime there are others, and more than twenty years will pass before a hard kind of justice is finally served.

A rich and complex portrait of a psychopath and a marriage, this is also an astute study of the various taints that can scar very different families, and even an entire community. Elizabeth Brundage is an essential talent who has given us a true modern classic.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2016
ISBN: 9781101875599
Branch Call Number: BRU
Characteristics: 399 p. ;,25 cm


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Jul 19, 2020

There was some decent prose here and good characterization - the Hale brothers were a bright spot but in the end the book was a fail for me. It tried to be too many things and didn't succeed at any: not nuanced enough to be literary fiction; not tight enough to be a real myster/thriller; not atmospheric or dark enough to be gothic. A woman is murdered. Her ass of a husband is an immediate suspect. Lots (but not enough) about the tragic Hale boys and other townspeople. A satisfying ending, after way too many (670!) pages.

Dec 19, 2019


Oct 10, 2017

This is a haunting thriller filled with powerful characters and setting. There were, however, some issues I had with the book. The long wait for the ending was very frustrating; the 400-page story could have been much shorter. There were also many times that I had no idea who was speaking because the author flipped point of view so often. With no quotation marks, it was sometimes difficult to know what was someone's thought, speech, or just part of the story. Here is an example from the book:

The little girl frowned at Mary.
Your poor mommy has a headache?
The child looked at her father uneasily. Mommy sick!
Nothing serious, he said pointedly, standing taller, rigid.
Well, if you could just give her this, Mary said, giving him the flyer. We're having a potluck supper. At church? We'd love for you all to come.
George glanced at the blue sheet, then back at her. I'll give it to her, he said, but she suspected he wouldn't. The way he was looking out at her made her nervous. Something about his eyes made her want to leave immediately.
Thanks so much, she said, her singsong as phony as margarine, feeling his gaze piercing her back as she walked to her car and drove away.

Jul 01, 2017

I'm so glad I ordered this book. Beautifully written, seamlessly weaving in and out between characters, giving them all just the right amount of depth. The story starts with the main event, and then gradually gradually reveals the context and perpetrator. Excellent.

Feb 25, 2017

The main character of this book is an old house. I think that it was a fascinating way to tell the story of a few generations of life in a part of a small town. It is full of sadness, but also very compelling. You want to keep reading.

Jun 03, 2016

This is a fantastic book. Wonderful writing. I found it easy to follow which is a testament to the author's amazing skill. This is a story about many unhappy lives, yet I found it engrossing and wholly believable.

May 08, 2016

Helluva of a book. Grim with a blinding sliver of optimism at the end. Written in a distinct interleaving non-linear style without dialogue attribution, will probably be offputting to some but damn this is a rare book where your heart goes out to so many characters.

An impressive piece of writing.

I am in awe of Brundage has accomplished here.

May 06, 2016

Incredible book. I read it without knowing anything about the plot, and I was hooked immediately. It is so well written, and it never gets boring. 5 stars.

Apr 28, 2016

Oh gosh, cannot stand this book. The writing style is so cold and stark and hopeless. No quotation marks. Everyone's unpleasant. I do not find myself rooting for any of the characters. I dislike the emphasis of the trivial sad detritus of people's lives. I don't think this writer likes her characters much. Perhaps she doesn't like anyone much. Thumbs down.

ChristchurchLib Apr 10, 2016

Did art history professor George Clare brutally murder his wife in their eerie farmhouse, then leave their toddler alone for hours while he returned to work? It seems likely, especially as the story of their more-than-shaky union unspools. But though both husband and wife carried secrets, so too did the unwelcoming town they'd recently moved to. Part mystery, part horror, and wholly unnerving, this riveting novel has been compared to Gillian Flynn's runaway bestseller Gone Girl, and may also appeal to fans of Jennifer McMahon's The Winter People.

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