The story is told from the viewpoint of several generations of people, the youngest born in 1950, the oldest born in 1880. It's the story of how a family interacts with each other in dark and dysfunctional ways, keeping secrets that involve murder and insanity. On the underbelly side of this tale, it's the story of personalities and how people do what they do to cope with who they are, hide truths from themselves and others, and make choices that have consequences.
On the downside, it was tough getting into this book because the first narrator is Elyse (born in 1950) and she's talking about things the reader can't understand yet. Frankly, it was annoying and until I got past the opening and oriented to what this book was about, I almost didn't read it. Also, sometimes the author was too obscure for my taste. She would tease the reader with information and then not make it fully clear what happened. You had to keep reading to find out. That annoyed me a few times. And then I have to admit I found some of the surprises she dished up implausible. But, hey, it made for good storytelling. I'll go with it.
I thought maybe, some of these characters were people the author knew, they were that complex. Francis is unlikable and the author never tries to make up for his failings by giving him redeeming qualities. He isn't bad in the sense that he's a serial killer. He's a master at self-pity and that's his downfall. Still I wanted to read his point of view about things. He's fascinating.
I couldn't relate to much in this book. I thought I would because of the Elyse character which is what made me get the book in the first place. She was born in 1950 and I was born in 1952. However, her experiences were nothing like mine. She didn't even like it when the family moved to a street with 40 kids living there. I did relate to the part where her family is taught to feel superior to the Baptists on the street because her family had become Roman Catholic. My family was Protestant and the Catholic lady down the street made it clear what she thought of us.
In the end, answers to mysteries are revealed and the story lines tied up.
I found the novel intriguing and gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.