I lovelovelove Sue Miller and her latest book, The Arsonist, lived up to my expectations. The plot, an arsonist terrorizes a small town in New Hampshire, is juicy enough. But it's Millers characters that make her a super-star.
Frankie returns from Africa to her parents' summer home where they have just retired. As she considers her next professional move and gets involved with the local reporter, her mother struggles to come to terms with her husband's Alzheimer's diagnosis.
Both women contemplate love and the future while ruminating on the lessons of the past. How does Frankie make room for another person in her life without sacrificing her need to find meaningful work? How does Sylvia continue to care for a husband she doesn't love without giving up her own identity? The mysterious fires that begin to divide the town are a backdrop to this very human story.
I enjoyed every moment of the read, but found the ending a bit of a disappointment. I do not require tidy happy endings in fiction, but this one includes a paragraph that takes all the hope out of any idea that things might work out eventually. Edit that paragraph out in your mind, like I did, and the ending is satisfying.