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Split Estate: A Novel Hardcover – Bargain Price, February 5, 2008
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Bacon's spare, precise prose illuminated with poetic turns of phrase ably compares the brutal reality of Wyoming with that of grief. As the Kings settle into their lives, there is hope that the change of scene might save what is left of the family. Chapters alternate between Arthur, Celia, Lucy, and Cam, but because the grief is collective as well as individual, this doesn't result in a lack of continuity; rather, the story is more nuanced and developed for the varied points of view. Each person has his secrets that are slowly revealed to the reader, and the ending is both shocking and inevitable. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking novel of despair, family, and Western life.
Overwhelmed by his own loss, Arthur is ill fit to render care and compassion to his teenage children, bewildered and confused in their efforts to decipher why fate has inflicted such a tragedy upon them.
Unable to envision New York City as a suitable place for his family to heal, Arthur packs up his family and drives to the small town of Callendar, Wyoming, his mother's ranch, his beginnings.
There we meet the matriarch, Lucy King, who manages her dwindling ranch, and wonders whether this new arrangement with her son and her grandchildren will provide the solace, they sorely need. As ranching loses its luster, and neighbors sell mineral rights to their land, Lucy struggles with her own personal demons.
The personal resolution of each character's conflicts is a study in human nature and endurance at its best.
Charlotte Bacon persuasively captures each character's persona as they undertake essential daily struggles and in so doing, discover the inner strength vital to advance beyond grief, and move forward.
Split Estate is the story of a family in the aftermath of a suicide; how they deal with it (or don't), how they learn to live with it, the choices they make. There are four main characters, and I was engaged with, and rooting for, each of them. They're not perfect people, they're real and human.
I didn't want this book to end. I was as enthralled with Bacon's writing, her amazing turn of phrase, as I was with her story.
My only problem with this book was the ending. I'm not a happily-ever-after person, I don't need a book wrapped up in a tidy bow, but this feels unfinished. I wanted just a little bit more.
Still, that's not a deal-breaker, it's an amazingly beautiful book, but that's the only reason I didn't give it five stars.
I can't wait to read more of Charlotte Bacon's work.