Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma.
Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother’s stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present.
Including stories from an array of characters orbiting Faith’s family, The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore. In ever-tender and elegant prose, Mary-Beth Hughes masterfully explores the emotional consequences of loss and the saving graces of love.
Praise for The Ocean House:
“[The Ocean House] accrues a rich, novelistic sweep and leaves readers with a vertiginous sense of contingency.”—New York Times
“A Rube Goldberg-like collection of stories in which a single character from one tale trips a connection to another… A fascinating puzzle… Rich with detail and unexpected phrasing, Hughes’ prose illuminates her dark emotional terrain. Grief-stricken yet beautiful portraits of fractured lives.”—Kirkus (starred review)
“Arresting… With an enviable ear for dialogue and high command of prose, Hughes finds in these overlapping stories a stark beauty amid scenes of suffering and death.[She] is a careful reader of her characters, and captures their small, easy-to-miss moments of humanity through life’s vicissitudes. These stories pack a punch.”—Publishers Weekly