In Alice McDermott's new work of fiction a woman recalls her bittersweet 15th summer. The beautiful child of older parents, raised on the eastern end of Long Island among the summer houses of the rich, Theresa is the town's most sough-after babysitter - cheerful, poised, an effortless storyteller, a wonder with children and animals. Among her charges this fateful summer is Daisy, her younger cousin, who has left a crowded working-class household in the city to spend a few quiet weeks in this bucolic place, under Theresa's benevolent eye.
Theresa must cope with the challenges presented by the neighborhood's waiflike children, the tumultuous households of her employers, the mysteriously compelling attentions of an aging painter, and Daisy's fragility of body and spirit as she makes the perilous crossing into adulthood.
McDermott's deeply etched rendering of all that happened that seemingly idyllic season explores the depths of everyday life with inimitable insight and grace.
"McDermott's gorgeous novel is laced with sly literary allusions and provocative insights into the enigma of sexual desire, the mutability of art, death's haunting presence, our need for fantasies, and the endless struggle to keep love pure." (
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