All Things Cease to Appear

Originally published June 2016

In the mood to look into someone’s soul only to find it doesn’t really exist?

All Things Cease to Appear, by Elizabeth Brundage, more than fits the bill — in the form of George Clare, who on the book’s earliest pages finds himself a widow and single father when his wife, Catherine, is brutally murdered.

So goes the story, which is really less a look at who killed Catherine and more a look into the history that led up to the fateful moment, beginning with the fact the house the Clares lived in may have been haunted by its previous residents.

“All Things” is a quiet read — subtle in its ability to suck you in and start caring about the why behind the who. Why does Catherine evolve from a quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of wife into her own? Why does Willis harbor such self-loathing that she can’t accept the love of one man over another? And why is George so damn scary? So creepy and intriguing and freakish and evil?

This is one of the books you immediately picture as an art house kind of movie that garners a best supporting actress him … set in the New York countryside, with townies and newbies and more than a handful of characters just trying to sort out why they are the way they are, with settings that range from the quiet academia of a private college campus to large farmhouses and angry winters. Brundage paints such beautiful scenes it makes it easy to escape into the book and not come up for a breath of air until the very end.

I’d love to tell you more about George but too much detail will give the book away — but it’s safe to say we’re working with a lot of damaged people here. This is a story worth your time and great for book club debate fuel.

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