From the Orange Prize–winning author of A Crime in the Neighborhood comes a “sharply witty” and “impeccably written” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) novel featuring a therapist attempting to unlock the most difficult cases of her life—those of her son and of her mother.
Anyone who’s ever had trouble persuading a teenager or an elderly parent to “open up” will recognize Lorna’s dilemma during the three days she finds herself alone in a remote lakeside cottage with her mutely miserable son and her impenetrable mother. Despite her training as a clinical social worker, and her arsenal of therapeutic techniques, she’s resisted at every turn as she tries to understand what’s made the two people most important to her go silent.
Though silence has always marked Lorna’s family. Her father was deaf. Her mother, Marika, abandoned Lorna and her brother when they were children. No explanation was ever offered. Nor why Marika resurfaced eighteen years ago to invite Lorna and her infant son, Adam, to Vermont for a strained reunion. A relationship, of sorts, has followed—an annual Thanksgiving visit, during which Marika sits taciturnly among the guests at Lorna’s table, agreeing only to “be seen to exist.”
But now it’s Adam who won’t talk. Home from college and suffering over something he won’t disclose, he’s so depressed that he refers to himself as “A” for “Anti-Matter.” So, when she’s summoned to Vermont because Marika has had a fall, Lorna sees an opportunity to get Adam out of the house and maybe also a chance to finally connect with her mother. What she never anticipated was that grandson and grandmother would form a bond, and leave her out of it.
How do you care for people you can’t understand, and who don’t want to be understood?
Suspenseful, poignantly funny, and beautifully incisive, The Blue Window explores the ways people misperceive each other, and how secrets and silence, wielded and guarded, exert their power over families—and what luminous, frightening, and tender possibilities might come forth, once those secrets are challenged.
“Suzanne Berne is an elegant, psychologically astute novelist” (Tom Perrotta), whose new book reveals what happens to people who hide from themselves, and the act of imagination it takes to find them.
About the Author
Suzanne Berne is the author of?four previous novels: The Dogs of Littlefield;?The Ghost at the Table;?A Perfect Arrangement; and?A Crime in the Neighborhood, winner of Great Britain’s Orange Prize. She lives outside of Boston with her husband.
“Sharply witty, deeply raw and impeccably written... [The Blue Window] explores familial bonds with deep feeling but without sentimentality, and [Berne's] portraits of marriage are astonishingly good." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The Blue Window is a novel in which the revelations are the story…Berne, whose 1998 novel A Crime in the Neighborhood won the British Orange Prize, is good at getting people’s subtle shifts of mood and understanding, and especially good at grounding these moments in sharply observed details…The tension between the immediate and the imagined or remembered is what makes this novel work, with Berne striking a satisfying balance between what happens, what it might mean, and what’s needed to go on. The past may be past, but its significance has yet to be determined. The possibilities are endless.”
“Berne builds suspense with a slow reveal of the long-hidden secrets… Berne’s (The Dogs of Littlefield, 2016) compelling fifth novel is an engaging exploration of how trauma can leave its mark in unexpected ways.”
“Berne (The Dogs of Littlefield) offers an engrossing story of family secrets involving a woman’s estranged mother and her troubled son…With chapters that alternate between points in time and Lorna, Adam, and Marika’s perspectives, the author expertly shows how secrets fester and affect the family, especially as Adam’s allegiances bend toward Marika…Berne’s strong prose carries the day, particularly her descriptions of Vermont’s natural beauty…a satisfying family drama.”
“[A] psychologically insightful portrait of family dynamics… Berne, who won the Orange Prize for A Crime in the Neighborhood, her 1997 debut, and more recently charmed readers with the social satire The Dogs of Littlefield (2016), chooses a tight focus for her latest: the tense dynamics of three troubled individuals as they play out over a few days in rural Vermont.”
“The Blue Window is a probing, deeply absorbing examination of personal and family secrets, and the sneaky ways that trauma can reverberate through multiple generations. Suzanne Berne is an elegant, psychologically astute novelist whose insights are illuminated by sly flashes of humor.”
—Tom Perotta, Author of Election and Tracy Flick Can't Win