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In this rich and wonderfully comic family story we meet the Hills, an irrepressible New England clan. First and foremost is the maiden aunt and matriarch, Lily, whose great old manse is invaded, in the summer of 1989, as the members of her family descend upon her one by one. From Lily’s old-salt brother Harvey, with his triptych of photographs of his three late wives, to their niece Ginger, a hopelessly scattered romantic and would-be novelist, to Ginger’s brother Alden, a banker laid off from Wall Street, with his rowdy brood of four, they all claim to have come “just for a visit.” But the weeks go by and no one shows any sign of leaving—if anything, the Hill family seems like it might actually be growing.
In a masterful orchestration of the many voices contending for dominance in the Hill household, Nancy Clark charts the family dynamics against the larger backdrop of the recession during the first Bush administration and the fall of the Berlin Wall—a changing world that encroaches on the Hills' Yankee existence in surprising ways as the plot develops. But it is with the arrival of Andy—a grad student with a tenous connection to the family, who wants to research the Hills for his Ph.D. on the vanishing breed of New England WASPs—that their lives are turned upside down. Armed with 3 x 5 cards and consanguinity calculations, Andy soon becomes as much a participant as an observer in the shenanigans, misunderstandings, and Shakespearean romantic couplings that the novel has in store. Directing this overflowing cast with wry wisdom and a rollicking prose style, Nancy Clark delights us with her exploration of the forces that strain and sustain a family, and the ties that bind.
“Rich, full, deliciously amusing and wonderfully observed, this is a delightful read.” —Andrea Barrett, author of The Voyage of the Narwhal and Servants of the Map