This is a brilliant book that I thoroughly enjoyed, it becoming impossible to put down as the stories intertwined. Imagine my disappointment when I eagerly turned what turned out to be the last page.....where on earth is the ending?! This beautifully written book would have rated 5+ stars and been highly recommended, but alas!
As someone who lived for many years in Newport, RI - where these stories take place - I congratulate Mr. Smith on nailing the locale. It is a town obsessed with its own history and culture - where the forces of class and privilege are still as strong as they ever were at the height of the Guilded Age, and where the narrow Colonial streets of The Point still speak to the early days of our nation. His ability to write in voices unique to each era, and in characters so different one to another speaks volumes about both his creative mind and the detailed research that went into this novel. The form of the book - five separate stories that are told in parallel chapters - is challenging at first, but becomes quite engrossing as the story lines become more and more tightly bound together by both place and theme. However, in the end; only one of the stories reaches a satisfying conclusion. The other four just stop - as if the final chapter was missing. I was actually shocked to find that I had reached the last page - and very disappointed to have invested so much time in these characters and their lives. Having spent several days traversing the Maze at Windermere, I am sad to report that you actually cannot reach the center. It is all dead ends.