All Things Cease to Appear

All Things Cease to Appear

Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife murdered and their three-year-old daughter alone--for how many hours?--in her room down the hall. He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at the private college nearby teaching art history, and moved his family into this tight-knit, impoverished town. And he is the immediate sus...

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Title:All Things Cease to Appear
Author:Elizabeth Brundage
Rating:
Edition Language:English

All Things Cease to Appear Reviews

  • Bill

    This novel is a narcotic! It altered my state of mind. It sucked me in from the very first sentence on the very first page and never relinquished its grip, long after the story came to a close! Perhaps it was my familiarity with many of the upstate NY cities and small, rural towns mentioned in the book. Or maybe it was my intense connection with so many of the characters that held such a sway over my emotions. Perhaps it was a siren call of lin

    This novel is a narcotic! It altered my state of mind. It sucked me in from the very first sentence on the very first page and never relinquished its grip, long after the story came to a close! Perhaps it was my familiarity with many of the upstate NY cities and small, rural towns mentioned in the book. Or maybe it was my intense connection with so many of the characters that held such a sway over my emotions. Perhaps it was a siren call of linguistic magic that captured my attention. Regardless of how it happened, this book turned into a very dear and treasured companion during the days we shared my favorite reading places. Empathy and compassion overwhelmed my brain. This tale touched my heart, broke it a few times along the way, spilling my tears thinking about the marriage of Catherine and George Clare and ever present, palpable sadness, despair and longing. Chillingly brilliant!

    The farmhouse on Old Farm Road in upstate Chosen, NY remained empty for years. Haunted they said. No one wanted it. The dairy farm had been in the Hale family since 1908. But the economy of the late ‘70s had gone sour and small farms were going broke. Ella Hale held the family together, caring for her three sons Cole, Wade and Eddy while slowly pawning off anything of value to keep the farm afloat. Cal Hale is a hard man, a gambler. The farm was a gamble but so was the track. News of the “accident” quickly spread through the tiny town of Chosen. The house, full of despair and oppressive gloom, sat quietly and stoically on what remained of the land after the property over the ridge was subdivided, until August of 1978 when Catherine, George and three year old Franny first arrived.

    George Clare accepts an assistant professor job in the Art History Department at Saginaw College. He saw the ad in the NY Times for the white farm house and met a real estate agent in March. By the time the Clares decided on the house, the bank foreclosed and George got an outstanding deal at auction. He stole it from the Hales they murmured. George never told Catherine about Ella and Cal Hale. Mary Lawton told George about the Hale tragedy while showing him the house. George is deceptive. He lies. He lies to Catherine all the time! Mary had a really bad feeling about the Clares.

    Their marriage is one of necessity, perhaps honor, not love. They met in college in Williamstown. Catherine was from a lower middle-class family in southern Vermont, the chubby girl from Grafton attending Wiliams on a scholarship. Her family was devout. George lived in Paris until he was five before moving to Connecticut. His father was the Furniture King in Connecticut, the family wealth accumulated from his father’s furniture stores. George has no use for religion, no belief in an afterlife. Despite their opposite family backgrounds, Catherine and George became inseparable at school. When Catherine becomes pregnant, George breaks it off but inexplicably shows up in Buffalo to marry her and take her back to the tiny apartment on Riverside in NYC, then on to Chosen.

    Very early into their new life in Chosen, Catherine discovers just how very different she and George really are. Their marriage is a hoax, a facade that fools no one. Just like Ella Hale before her, she senses extreme danger and lies awake at night planning her escape. And just like Ella, her love for her child is too strong to walk away, her desire to find her true self burning inside. She endures and perseveres as a good Catholic wife should, fully aware of the darkness lurking inside George. He hates her, he despises her. She is not safe.

    When Catherine finally departs the old Hale house on Old Farm Road on that cold, wintry February day, the house the Hale boys painted and maintained, looking after Franny when George and Catherine were out with friends or at faculty events, her head felt impossibly heavy. She doesn’t feel any pain, just amazement and wonder. She knows she is loved … she is ready to leave!

    Catherine’s departure forever changes Chosen. Marriages fall apart. Neighbors go cold. The axe was so common it could be found in every home in rural Chosen. The house was spotless, not a single finger print anywhere! The case goes cold … for now!

    Burrrr … the entire novel is mysterious and dark, only shades of black and gray like a charcoal drawing with psychosis obscured by dismissiveness, irritability, pot and booze, long hours and mysterious meetings, endless lists of reasons and excuses, an emptiness of reptilian cold-bloodedness and chameleon changeability.

    The only rays of sunshine in this story are Catherine and Franny Clare and Cole Hale, but they are completely blotted out by the darkness that is George. Only after years of emotional anguish and scars of time do rays of sunshine penetrate the gloom.

    The literary field that Brundage is tilling in this tale is nothing new and has been hoed many times before. However, the manner in which she tills this field, her selection of literary tools and the sharp angles at which she hoed each row is extraordinary. Even the complete absence of quotation marks gives the story a real sense of uneasiness and discomfort … nothing is neat and clean or as it seems in Chosen, NY.

    My sense was the absence of quotation marks was not an editor oversight or author gimmick, it was an intentional part of the story, the punctuation of the messiness of their marriage, the psychosis of George, the blur of love, hatred, supernatural and thoughts of God and life after this one. So many readers comment how the dearth of quotation marks drove them crazy. Well played Elizabeth Brundage … you forced us to feel this book!

    In addition to the darkness of the tale and the mental illness of so many of the characters, the sprinkling of the supernatural throughout was perfect … Catherine’s awareness of Ella still in the house, the rings mysteriously appearing on the window sill, the pockets of cold air, the smell of car exhaust in the Hale's master bedroom over the garage, the sudden bright lights in the empty house.

    Perhaps this was a nod to Swedenborg, the sliver of George’s incomplete doctoral dissertation that landed him the job a Saginaw and a reflection of the abundance of goodness in the heart of Catherine Clare.

    Please, please, please be advised these musings just scratch the surface of a highly memorable and thought provoking tale. My nerve endings tingled with anticipation each time I picked up the book. We know from the very beginning that Catherine was murdered but how we arrive at that fateful day slowly unfolds with chilling nuances, delicious observations of love and life and dark revelations of psychosis.

    I savored every minute of my surrender to a bittersweet melancholia induced by the story. I highly recommend this book! For a completely opposite view of this book, click through to see what Kelli Kilpeck Reed has to say. We read this book together and her reaction was … BLAH!

  • Diane S ☔

    This book is almost impossible to describe, though it starts with a horrific murder, so since I am feeling creative today I have decided to compare this book to fishing. Not fly fishing but the lazy kind of fishing where you spend the morning waiting for the fish to bite. The place I fish is beautiful, just as the land where the farmhouse sits that the Clares buy is absolutely breathtaking. I am hopeful that this will be a wonderful fishing day, the picture of the Clares with their three year ol

    This book is almost impossible to describe, though it starts with a horrific murder, so since I am feeling creative today I have decided to compare this book to fishing. Not fly fishing but the lazy kind of fishing where you spend the morning waiting for the fish to bite. The place I fish is beautiful, just as the land where the farmhouse sits that the Clares buy is absolutely breathtaking. I am hopeful that this will be a wonderful fishing day, the picture of the Clares with their three year old daughter show they seem hopeful that this will be a new start to their marriage even if the farmhouse already has a tragic past. I sit and wait and things seem to happen very slowly but at last a bite and soon my line is tightening, just as the tension in this novel tightens and builds, my line bows, the fish is large and it is running down the river trying to escape. Soon my pole bows and I start reeling the fish in, just as this novel draws the reader in completely. I reel my fish in and just when I can see how large it is, and it is close to shore, the line snaps and the fish swims away. If I had a net I could have had this fish but I did not have the right supplies. Just as the police officer in this case does, not have all the information he needs to successfully being this murderer to justice, people who have information but cannot or will not share this. But the day is long and there is more time, maybe someday I will catch this fish, a twist at the end is always welcome. Sometimes things just take longer than we want them too. And since we will not be having fish for dinner, others are affected.

    This actually all makes more sense than is apparent and if you read this book, and you should, you will see what I mean.

    Arc from publisher.

  • Elyse Walters

    George says, (while opening the front door), "Hello, Paul", shaking his hand, "I'm sorry for your loss"!

    YIKES... WHOLLY-DIP-S#+T.

    If you just discovered your wife -murdered -

    ....yes, you spent 5 hours at the police station immediately after...

    had a night's sleep ( if that's what it's called)...

    would you be be so kind to consider your wife's sister, ( Agnes), husband's feelings?

    REALLY? So soon? Get Real! It wouldn't enter your mind to say "sorry for you loss,

    PAUL".

    So...I'm already thinking 'ea

    George says, (while opening the front door), "Hello, Paul", shaking his hand, "I'm sorry for your loss"!

    YIKES... WHOLLY-DIP-S#+T.

    If you just discovered your wife -murdered -

    ....yes, you spent 5 hours at the police station immediately after...

    had a night's sleep ( if that's what it's called)...

    would you be be so kind to consider your wife's sister, ( Agnes), husband's feelings?

    REALLY? So soon? Get Real! It wouldn't enter your mind to say "sorry for you loss,

    PAUL".

    So...I'm already thinking 'early' in the story, this George guy (husband of the murdered wife), is 'at least' some kind of shady character. I'm hook.. I'm paying attention to wevery little detail and new character introduced.

    ...I'm trusting nobody!!! ( other than the toddler, Fanny, who was in the house when

    her mother was killed).

    Great crime thriller....

    Spans over 20 years...

    A couple Ella & Calvin Hale commit suicide in their farm house ( they have 3 sons)

    George, Catherine, and toddle Fanny move into the farm house

    The Hale sons help around out the new owners...getting close to Catherine and Fanny.

    Once Catherine is murdered ...it seems the entire community blames George.

    Yet, the crime goes unsolved.

    A few things we know..

    George has a young mistress.

    Their marriage was coming apart at the seams...

    George had a temper.

    The farm house had a creepy history...

    George was some kind of "wunderkind in art history". "

    George had the "benign, uninteresting beauty of the Disney prince who, out of stupid luck, always got the girl."

    Catherine wasn't exactly assertive, or confident on her own.

    Catherine was beautiful, but fragile...but got stronger from the support of her friends.

    So, did George do it? Did "Hello, Paul, I'm sorry for your loss", guy, kill his wife or not"?

    If not him, who? and why?

    A very satisfying intelligent, well written thriller. An riveting ride we take with the author while searching for the truth and exploring the complexities of the families and the

    complexities of the human mind.

    Thank You Knopf Doubleday Publishing, Netgalley, and Elizabeth Brundage

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    Many thanks to Netgalley for supplying my copy in exchange for an honest and fair review.

    3.5 stars. As we are traveling and I am on the app, I will come back later and put in any links needed.

    When I saw this author had a new book coming out I was all over it. One of her previous novels, The Doctor's Wife, is on my all time favorites list and still lingers with me. I've also enjoyed two of her other books. This one was a good enough read, but somehow seemed to fall a bit short from her others.

    Many thanks to Netgalley for supplying my copy in exchange for an honest and fair review.

    3.5 stars. As we are traveling and I am on the app, I will come back later and put in any links needed.

    When I saw this author had a new book coming out I was all over it. One of her previous novels, The Doctor's Wife, is on my all time favorites list and still lingers with me. I've also enjoyed two of her other books. This one was a good enough read, but somehow seemed to fall a bit short from her others. Maybe my expectations were too high.

    The story starts with a husband coming home to find his wife's dead body and his young daughter being left with her all day. I was hooked at this point, expecting edge of my seat suspense and intensity. The story then flips to give the backstory of the house and the post story of the murder. There was a ghostly aspect to the story which I found appealing and I really enjoyed the highlights of Catherine's relationship with the boys. Overall though, this one seemed a bit wordy and didn't have the shine her others possessed. I will still be looking out for other work from this author and am fully aware I could have read this at the wrong time which could have affected my reception. I would classify this more as family drama fiction than a suspenseful thriller.

  • Kelli

    This book is 400 pages long. There are no quotation marks used. Ever. Therefore, there is not only no indication from sentence to sentence of

    , but often there is no indication of

    (call me crazy, but I need this information to follow the story)...and there are clunky, abrupt transitions of past and present and points of view. This made for a challenging and somewhat painful reading experience for me. This book was very well-written, just in desperate need of better

    This book is 400 pages long. There are no quotation marks used. Ever. Therefore, there is not only no indication from sentence to sentence of

    , but often there is no indication of

    (call me crazy, but I need this information to follow the story)...and there are clunky, abrupt transitions of past and present and points of view. This made for a challenging and somewhat painful reading experience for me. This book was very well-written, just in desperate need of better editing and stylistic methods. Very dark, deeply-detailed and way too long, this meandered to the point that it became confusing. This was an ambitious drama that enticed me to skim. Upon reaching the end, I was exhausted by it all and not overly impressed. 2.5 stars.

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