In Between Days
Knopf, Sep 4 2012, $24.95
On Houston, Elson the highly regarded architect and Cadence are divorced after three decades of marriage. Their two college aged children Richard and Chloe are not dealing well with their parents’ breakup.
Cadence calls Elson to inform him that their daughter is flying home tonight as Stratham College has expelled her for an act of violence involving her boyfriend Raja. Elson’s ex-wife also tells him that Richard, a graduate student at Rice, will pick up his sister as Chloe does not want to see her dad until tomorrow. With his family falling apart, his lover Lorna increasingly distant, and his career collapsing; Elson turns to alcohol to numb the pain of failure.
This is an intriguing family drama in which a monumental event (the end of a long marriage) has lasting impact on the couple and their children. Although reading more like four interrelated novellas, the Harding quartet are fully developed characters. Elson filled with thoughts of loser acts increasingly irresponsible; Cadence filled with self-pity and regret for marrying him struggles to find an identity besides ex and mom; Richard living at home feels torn between poet and supporting himself; and Chloe stunned by her parents’ divorce makes bad relational choices that hurt her and her family. Fans will appreciate this deep look at the impact on people when a key identifier (family role) becomes extinct.