Tired of their high school teaching jobs and discouraged by their failed attempts at conceiving a child, Mark and Fran Finley decide they need a change in their lives. Abruptly, they leave their friends and family in suburban New Jersey to begin anew as innkeepers on a secluded lake in the Adirondack Mountains. There they muddle through their first season at the inn, serving barely edible dinners to guests, stranding themselves in chest-deep snowdrifts, and somehow, miraculously, amid swarms of ravenous black flies, conceiving a child, a girl they name Nat. Years later, when Mark and Fran are nearing middle age and Nat is a troubled teenager, Mark's life is ripped apart, forever changed, and he must choose between returning to his old home in New Jersey or trying to rebuild what is left of his life and family in the place of his greatest joy and deepest sorrow.
Kathryn - 3.5 Star
The Tumble Inn’s cover grabbed me and drew me in but unfortunately it had to sit there on my book shelf for a month or so before I was finally able to read it. The story (though sometimes slowly paced) drew me in immediately, as the cover had done.
I’ve read a few reviews that were frustrated about the pace of the novel and although I agree that it perhaps had a bit too much description and not a huge amount of “action” I found it fitting for the location and pace of life I would expect from a seasonal destination point. The main characters Mark and Fran were often struggling with new situations and the first person narrative from the perspective of Mark made the novel reflective at times, but I found his thoughts on their lives interesting nonetheless. He seemed lost and out of his depth not only with the inn but also later with their daughter, this made him endearing to me and I noticed his feeling towards his wife and child much more than if we had had the story told from another point of view. It would have been an entirely different novel with another’s angle but for me, less authentic. I did occasionally wish though that we had more time exploring their roles as innkeepers with the visitors and not just the endless jobs required of keeping the place upright during the winter months. I think we could have gleaned more insight into Mark and Fran’s personalities through interactions with other people and with less description of the surroundings and weather.
The dramatic events towards the end of the story were difficult but William Loizeaux made me believe that Mark’s feelings were genuinely honest. I could imagine many men experiencing the same sense of bewilderment and confusion when facing the new lives they had to lead together. My lingering feeling of The Tumble Inn a few weeks on is still positive and I enjoyed the novel.
Thank you to Syracuse University Press for our review copy. All opinions are our own.
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