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The Thin Placeby Kathryn Davis
Synopses & Reviews
The prize-winning author of Versailles tells the story of a small New England village unsettled by a young girl's unearthly gift. In Varennes, a town near the Canadian border, three girls come across the body of a dead man on the local lake's beach. Two of them run to get help, but twelve-year-old Mees Kipp stays with the body and somehow, inexplicably, brings it back to life. Her mysterious gift is at the center of this haunting and transcendent novel.
"Davis stretches relationships over centuries and species in this loopy follow-up to her historical, Versailles. When three schoolgirls come upon a seemingly dead neighbor, Mr. Banner, prostrate on the beach, he is revived by the uncanny spiritual powers of one of the girls, Mees Kipp, a strange fatherless waif who is also able to communicate with dogs. The narrative's point-of-view jumps among various characters (including a dog) as Davis explores the teeming, deceitful, hidden lives of the small church-going community and teases out its history via the journal of a late 19th-century schoolmarm who harbors a secret passion. (She perished with her pupils in what has become known as the Sunday School Outing Disaster; the 1870s tragedy still haunts the town.) Meanwhile, in the Crockett Home for the Aged, sharp-witted Helen Zeebrugge, at 92, simmers at the stupidity and condescension of her caretakers; her only son, Piet, in his vigorous 60s, is looking for wife number five and is tired of dating the athletic French teacher at the high school. With her eye on Piet, 50-ish divorce Billie Carpenter, new to town and unattached, possesses the clarity to grasp the larger supernatural realignment that's taking place in Varennes, as evil (or senseless mortality) is replaced by a life-affirming force: love." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Davis writes hallucinatory, literate prose, and adopts a cosmic perspective: she is concerned with nothing less than describing the town’s every waking moment." New Yorker
"No amount of character sketching or plot summary, however, can begin to convey the experience of reading this strange and delightful novel." Washington Post
"Cosmic without being florid, funny without being flip, terrifying without being trite...Davis gives us a world animated by spirit." Seattle Times
"Davis is one of the most inventive novelists at work today....There is no adequate summing up of The Thin Place. The pieces, in this case, are so much greater than the whole." Chicago Tribune
"It is difficult not to be exhilarated by Davis' soaring ambitions, her hallucinatory use of language, her fearlessness." San Francisco Chronicle
"If the events left me unsatisfied, that's at least partly because I wasn't ready to vacate the town of Varennes." Christian Science Monitor
"Never has Davis' prose seemed more effortless....The Thin Place is a bright, shimmering book, and the variety of voices come together like a globe cut from glass in the sun." Chicago Sun-Times
In a thin place, according to legend, the membrane separating this world from the spirit world is almost nonexistent. The small New England town of Varennes is such a place, and Kathryn Davis transports us there - revealing a surprising pageant of life as, in the course of one summer, Varennes' tranquillity is shattered by the arrival of a threatening outsider, worldly and otherworldly forces come into play, and a young local girl finds her miraculous gift for resurrecting the dead tested by the conflict between logic and wish.
In this acclaimed novel, now available in paperback, the prize-winning authorof "Versailles" tells the story of a small New England village unsettled by ayoung girl's unearthly gift.
About the Author
Davis has received a Kafka Prize, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
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