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The Bramblesby Eliza Minot
Synopses & Reviews
Let's keep him, said Florence. They were about to sign the lease. He looks like he likes it here.
In the flowerbed, a small cement statue, two feet tall, robed, bearded, in mid-step looks down at the rounded rim of the swimming pool. In one hand he holds a spade, in the other a plume of kale or chard. The house's previous occupants had left him. Or maybe the occupants before them. A frost of green moss along an eyebrow. Part of a finger fallen off. Coin-sized circles, charcoal gray, of lichen.
Saint Fiacre, said Arthur. He'd recently seen an article on him in one of the gardening magazines. Also known as Fiacrius, I believe. Fiachra.
Mmm, said Florence. She was already tearing up some weeds in the raised bed next to her hip.
The patron saint of gardeners, said Arthur.
And women who can't conceive, said Florence, bent over, uprooting tall grasses. And taxi drivers.
Arthur laughed. Nonsense.
And potters, tile makers . . . hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids get to have a saint?
That's what one of your magazines told me, she said. I read it on the john. She stood up straight. Do you think we could bring out a part of that rambler rose? Plant it right here? She shimmied her arm up, a move from one of her dance numbers a long time ago, to demonstrate where. A trellis?
Arthur stood at the pool's edge, watching the water's surface get spackled with light. I don't see why not, he said.
Florence surveyed the place, massaged her chin with her thumb and forefinger, playing the part of someone surveying, considering, left behind a soul patch of dirt underneath her bottom lip. Can't we put bulbs in the freezer to pretendwinter's happening?
Certainly, said Arthur.
Those other roses, continued Florence, the sweet midget ones, could be over there.
Dwarf. Of course, he said.
Florence looked up to see him standing at the edge of the pool as if he might upend it. Look at you, she said. You'll never step foot in that pool.
It's remarkably clean.
It better be clean.
I'm not looking forward to keeping it clean.
Roy told me a young man does it for practically nothing, said Florence, ambling toward the garage. The kids will love it.
Sure they will, said Arthur, without irony, with true warmth, thinking of his daughters, Edie diving in, her body coated in a shaft of glass. Margaret with her new baby when it finally comes, bobbing it up and down in the water the way mothers do. He could place his son, Max, lazing in the chaise with a baseball hat on top of his face. Arthur had a hard time believing any of them would ever make the trip across the country to visit.
Florence answered him, reading his mind. They'll be thrilled to come visit us. Who doesn't like sunlight? Who doesn't like California?
Arthur raised his hand. Me, he said, pointing down to himself from above. Me.
Too bad about you, Florence smiled.
Arthur watched his wife busying herself, familiarizing herself with this new place, how to make it hers, placing her scent everywhere. He watched her circle trees and look under plants, gently gathering tall stalks like a ponytail to inspect their roots. He watched her poke around in the garage, kicking at boxes, and peer over fences on tiptoe, imagining things to be done, things she would do. She looked the same asshe always had, spry and
Eliza Minot was born in Beverly, Massachusetts. She lives in Maplewood, New Jersey, with her family.
The three Bramble siblings--Margaret, an overwhelmed mother of three who is taking on her ailing father as well; single Edie, dealing with feelings of isolation; and Max, newly unemployed and struggling with the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood--struggle to deal with the complexities, challenges, and emotional upheaval of their individual lives 40,000 first printing.
A luminous, panoramic novel of family life a beautiful, often hilarious portrait of motherhood and marriage and a magnificent leap forward from the highly praised
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