IN BETWEEN DAYS
Within a few pages, the four family members around which
this story is based are introduced in one way or another.
Elson, the father, is met first. Divorced, living with a
younger woman, he's an architect whose buildings, ''too
severe, too cold'', seem to echo his personality.
Liking a degree of anonymity, he has been drinking in a
Houston hotel where no-one knows him. He stops on his way
home to check his messages and finds a flurry of them from
his ex-wife, Cadence.
When he phones her, she tells him that their daughter, Chloe,
is on her way home from her Boston university, having been
temporarily expelled for reasons she will not explain.
Their son Richard makes his appearance next, participating in
a poetry workshop at his tutor's house. Richard is talented
but tortured, ambivalent about being involved with gay
friends whose friendship he values, but whose morals are
dubious. He has been delegated to meet his errant sister, as
they have a close sibling bond.
The bond is made stronger by their mutual distress at the
nastiness of their parents' divorce.
We soon learn a little more about the mystery surrounding
Chloe's disgrace, but information is leaked so slowly
throughout the book that it's not until nearly the end that
the entire story is revealed. Meanwhile, I found myself
becoming as frustrated as the rest of her family, who were
desperate to know the truth.
In fact, I found the whole family frustrating to read about.
Cadence has sessions with her psychiatrist in which she
refuses to answer his questions, but continues to go to him
out of ''boredom and loneliness''; Chloe refuses to reveal
the circumstances that led to her expulsion; Richard cannot
decide whether or not to take up an offer of a poetry
scholarship to graduate school; and Elson spends a lot of
time regretting choices made in his earlier life.
I began this book with high expectations, as there is a
positive quote about the author's previous work from
Marilynne Robinson on its back cover, and Porter has won
several awards for his short fiction. But although themes
such as the importance of communication within a marriage and
the destructive impact a parental divorce can have on older
adolescents were strongly covered, the characters and their
problems failed to connect with me.
- Patricia Thwaites is a retired