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The Arsonist: A novel
From the best-selling author of While I Was Gone and The Senator’s Wife, a superb new novel about a family and a community tested when an arsonist begins setting fire to the homes of the summer people in a small New England town.
Troubled by the feeling that she belongs nowhere after working in East Africa for fifteen years, Frankie Rowley has come home—home to the small New Hampshire village of Pomeroy and the farmhouse where her family has always summered. On her first night back, a house up the road burns to the ground. Then another house burns, and another, always the houses of the summer people. In a town where people have never bothered to lock their doors, social fault lines are opened, and neighbors begin to regard one another with suspicion. Against this backdrop of menace and fear, Frankie begins a passionate, unexpected affair with the editor of the local paper, a romance that progresses with exquisite tenderness and heat toward its own remarkable risks and revelations.
Suspenseful, sophisticated, rich in psychological nuance and emotional insight, The Arsonist is vintage Sue Miller—a finely wrought novel about belonging and community, about how and where one ought to live, about what it means to lead a fulfilling life. One of our most elegant and engrossing novelists at her inimitable best.
About the Author
Sue Miller is the best-selling author of the novels The Lake Shore Limited, The Senator’s Wife, Lost in the Forest, The World Below, While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures, and The Good Mother; the story collection Inventing the Abbotts; and the memoir The Story of My Father. She lives in Boston.
Praise for The Arsonist: A novel…
“Entertaining and highly readable . . . Miller’s scenes are terrific. She is expert at moving people in and out of rooms in a visual and easy way [and] describing physical chemistry and attraction in a way that manages to avoid all cliché . . . Fantastic sizzle, both sexual and spiritual . . . A cracking good romance . . . Will keep you reading.”
“Subtle . . . Miller writes effectively about the tense underpinnings of a summer community . . . Full of Miller’s signature intelligence about people caught between moral responsibility and a hunger for self-realization.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Thoughtful, intense . . . An ambitious, big-issue novel . . . The Arsonist takes place far removed from national news or world conflicts, but it, too, reflects the most urgent matters of our time . . . When even mentioning the widening distance between the classes is considered an act of class warfare, it’s encouraging to watch Miller’s novel negotiate this awkward fact of American life . . . The continuing miracle of Miller’s compelling storytelling [is] she knows these people matter, and as she moves gently from one character's perspective to another, her sensitive delineation of their lives convinces us of that, too.”
—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
“Miller eschews easy cliffhangers or narrative deceits. The momentum grows instead from her compassionate handling of these characters . . . Not all questions are answered, nor all mysteries solved, but the end of the book is imbued with the same quiet energy that’s been building throughout; it’s not happy, exactly—that would be too easy—but, in true Sue Miller fashion, it’s triumphant.”
“Lyrical, compelling . . . Miller’s portrayal of the fragility of relationships and fear of the unknown—of the thing sthat happen to and around us that we can’t control—are spot-on . . . Miller is a nuanced storyteller who portrays real life . . . Provocative, suspenseful, and emotional.”
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A complex page-turner about class differences, family relationships, and the meaning of home . . . Miller is a master at mining the intricacies of human relationships . . . Miller explores with all her characters finding their place in the world and living a meaningful life.”
—The Cape Codder
“Miller once again delivers a novel that, engrossing and rich, is a showcase for her unique ability to get into the nitty-grittys of familial and romantic relationships . . . Scene after scene unfolds—and reads—like life itself. With all its big questions, and all our small, yearning, maybe-right-maybe-wrong answers.”
—Summer Picks from Linda Wolfe
“Miller’s prose keeps you reading. Her sentences have a sumptuous quality to them.”
“A provocative novel about the boundaries of relationships and the tenuous alliance between locals and summer residents when a crisis is at hand . . . Miller, a pro at explicating family relationships as well as the fragile underpinnings of mature romance, brilliantly explores how her characters define what ‘home’ means to them and the lengths they will go to protect it.”
“With her trademark elegant prose and masterful command of subtle psychological nuance, Miller explores the tensions between the summer people and the locals in a small New Hampshire town . . . In this suspenseful and romantic novel, Miller delicately parses the value of commitment and community, the risky nature of relationships, and the yearning for meaningful work.”
“The heart of the story really lies in Sylvie and Alfie’s marriage . . . Miller’s portrayal of early Alzheimer’s and the toll it takes on a family is disturbingly accurate and avoids the sentimental uplift prevalent in issue-oriented fiction . . . Miller captures all the complicated nuances of a family in crisis.”