All Things Cease to Appear

All Things Cease to Appear

A dark, riveting, beautifully written book—by “a brilliant novelist” according to Richard Bausch—that combines noir and the gothic in a story about two families entwined in their own unhappiness, with, at its heart, a gruesome and unsolved murder.Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife killed and their three-year-old daughter...

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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

    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

    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 (semi hiatus) 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

    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

  • JanB

    This brooding, atmospheric story opens in 1979 when George Clare, a university professor, comes home from work to find his wife murdered in their bed, an ax to the head, and their toddler, Fanny, alone in the house. The marriage was not a happy one and George is the immediate suspect. Everyone seems to know he did it.

    But the house has a creepy history. Some years prior, the Hale family lived in the house. Theirs was also an unhappy union. The couple commits suicide, leaving behind 3 young sons.

    This brooding, atmospheric story opens in 1979 when George Clare, a university professor, comes home from work to find his wife murdered in their bed, an ax to the head, and their toddler, Fanny, alone in the house. The marriage was not a happy one and George is the immediate suspect. Everyone seems to know he did it.

    But the house has a creepy history. Some years prior, the Hale family lived in the house. Theirs was also an unhappy union. The couple commits suicide, leaving behind 3 young sons. One of the sons now has ties to the Clare family, babysitting Fanny on occasion and helping out around the house.

    From here, the narrative toggles back and forth between the two families, going back in the past to discover how both families ended up where they did. After the dramatic start, it’s a slow burn of a novel, with the tension slowly building. Emphasis on slowly.

    This is not a fast-paced thriller or a murder mystery. It’s a post-mortem of a troubled marriage, and a character study of a psychopath along with the people in his orbit. Thoughts, musings, and mundane actions are described in detail, sometimes meandering along for no discernible reason. Not much happens for a long time after the grisly beginning. And then all of a sudden, I found myself totally riveted, and I finished the last half of the book in one sitting.

    The town itself is a character in the book, with the economic struggles of life in a rural community in the 1970s, and the characters who inhabit the town well-defined. And then there's the house, with a lot of sadness happening under it's roof. There’s a slight supernatural element as well, but it was done extremely well and is a very minor part of the story.

    I tried the audiobook but didn’t care for the narrator so switched to the print book. Only to find out there are no quotation marks and run on paragraphs – there were times I didn’t know who was talking or if the character was thinking it or saying it. It made me crazy but eventually I was so into the flow of the story I stopped noticing.

    The book is masterfully told and beautifully written, full of nuance and one that I’ll be thinking about for a while. A little patience is needed at the beginning but it was worth the wait. However, I did have a few quibbles about certain things that happen at the end

  • Carol

    ****4.5 Stars****

  • Kasia

    One of my best reads of the year. Characters were portrayed so real you wanted to call them and asked them to stop by, or run next door to borrow a cup of sugar. Those were my friends over the last few days. My heart dropped to my stomach each time one of them got hurt, abused, depressed, or murdered.

    On top of that, this book includes the most memorable "ghost scene" ever. While reading this particular part I was alone in the attic bedroom of a large house, rain and thunder outside and it was

    One of my best reads of the year. Characters were portrayed so real you wanted to call them and asked them to stop by, or run next door to borrow a cup of sugar. Those were my friends over the last few days. My heart dropped to my stomach each time one of them got hurt, abused, depressed, or murdered.

    On top of that, this book includes the most memorable "ghost scene" ever. While reading this particular part I was alone in the attic bedroom of a large house, rain and thunder outside and it was 0130 am. Then I heard footsteps downstairs and then on stairs....

    It scared the shit out of me. Couldn't get my breathing under control for hours after.

    TAKE THAT STEPHEN KING!

  • Jeanette

    This book impressed me. It's the first book I've read by this author and I am sure it will not be the last.

    It reads in its trailer as if it were a mystery genre. But I would say this is crossover to a high literary and psychological standard- quite apart from the intersects and asides that have hide and seek mixtures upon the arts. Arts of painting, music and weaving at the least. There's an attempt that moves and emotes farther than the scope of a mystery genre. Or a psychological thriller of

    This book impressed me. It's the first book I've read by this author and I am sure it will not be the last.

    It reads in its trailer as if it were a mystery genre. But I would say this is crossover to a high literary and psychological standard- quite apart from the intersects and asides that have hide and seek mixtures upon the arts. Arts of painting, music and weaving at the least. There's an attempt that moves and emotes farther than the scope of a mystery genre. Or a psychological thriller of any type or pace of action. This work also holds more inclusive eyes to a God belief, organizational religion specifics, humans on a spectrum of controllers and manipulators (far more than on an introvert/extrovert scale), parental role model for work or numbers of work communications, possibly the tone of those communications quite apart from the kind/unkind scales of their judgments. All matters of land ownership when there is a big sky and far to see. Many tangents of profundity, more than many aspects of family "style" depth entered here within this novel. Very apart from the prime characters or plot- that's merely the seen /material.

    Yes, it is long. And the continuity at times becomes jarring rather than flowing. At different points in this novel I felt I had clear reason to approach anything from a 2 star to a 5 star rating. It was hard to decipher. This is deep. And coupled with the depth is a strong proclivity to the unseen. Perhaps the title itself. Read this again to get the ambiance to what I mean by that.

    Because when "All Things Cease to Appear" is when they are most clarified as a feeling, existing being the predominant factor perceived by the senses. Not just in the air, but in the Hale house itself, saturating every board and cement block crevice.

    Truly I want to give it 5 stars. But I can't. (There was a long section in the center through Willis' eyes that drove me nuts. That character was obnoxious times two. Just another kind of user.) It is not the grammar or lacking of quotes factor either. Perhaps, that factor HELPED toward 5 star rating. Just as in George, the lack is unseen- as the void of "owning" the quotes or conversation. It worked. The purists will not believe this. Certainly it did not make reading it easier. At times I had to reread a 4 paragraph section to see where the see-saw of the conversation had started. Who said what? But I soon knew.

    And like the " " " that are missing, it seems "normal" after a while of dwelling with the Hales and the Clares. The missing parts assumed. Or can we assume?

    This is the kind of book that needs high patience and would be excellent book club fare. No one will "like" all the characters. But unlike most moderns, there are saints and there are sinners (sinners know they do wrong so maybe in a case or two here it is a demon)- the appalling and most dysfunctional do not reign supreme in numbers. And good certainly exists too. Like the real world, the worst are absolutely there- but also are not in majority. And all of those manipulators hold and use every parcel of the seeds for their own destruction when they do what they do. So some of the quotes (especially Catherine's faith and self-knowledge to know that in some way good would survive and a type of justice prevail) are more than excellent. But it is the value judgments here held all around the town that peak like a mountain in the middle of an 1000 mile prairie. In this "type" of book, how often do you see that value infused so well into 400 plus pages? Rarely, rarely. In that it absolutely deserved the 5. This woman, Elizabeth Brundage, knows her human psychology and cognition abilities for human affect, far beyond the average writer. Even for and among the philosophical and more literary with the big L tomes.

    Catherine I will remember. Her marriage and its most internal component is far more the common divorce fodder than most people believe. Many times I have read that divorce is a two sided failure. That is certainly not true in large percentages. It only takes one person who has no onus to "we think" for the entity of a pair of mated humans, not even on the scale of a George- to negate the entire bonding.

    Deep waters. Despite it happening in upstate NY, it's a tale that can happen anywhere in small town USA where the job types and cultural structures of a century have become imploded and working the land inconsequential compared to the money scales or choices displayed of the "summer" people.

    Many superb under characters to know in this novel at a more core personality level than the main protagonist in most literary genre books. Yet some of them were hard to follow in the onus of their actions at certain points because of the style form and not reappearing for 200 pages. Travis, Mary, Bram, Justine! But especially those Hale boys, Willis and the college faculty employees.

    Thank you to my 2 GR friends who gave me a heads up on this one. It was definitely in the top 5 read for 2017, so far. And in a genre type I would never have suspected such a find. I am not a fan of the modern dysfunctional fare that is 75% of the current best seller line.

    But is this modern? Bordering? Late 1970's and decade of 1980's still held some of the family structured mores of the decades before that are now completely gone. Like sewing your own clothes, and house proud female judging etc. Well, frankly- this novel got it entirely correct for that time period too. It was 5 star spot on with the boys' choices then also.

    With Rebecca you had a house, Manderly, that was not easy to forget. With this book I will remember the Hale House. The Hale House structure itself, as much as Ella or Catherine or their children.

    Try to ignore the disjointing structures of time lapse and afterthought and give this one a chance. It's not fluff. If you need something to chew on- this is a high recommendation.

    Many things to ponder in the afterwards of reading too. Or for Franny returning after decades. I am now thinking of Ella and Catherine in their present conversations.

    Lastly, I can clearly understand how some readers would give this a 2 star and not feel the intrigue to open these locks. It's the same kind of puzzle as a "Defending Jacob". You don't want to find everything that is boxed within.

  • 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.

  • Elaine

    I'm befuddled by the positive reviews I'm reading here but it's not the first time I've felt like this, and it definitely won't be the last.

    The book is nicely written, which is the only positive.

    Let me save you 400 pages of backstory and endless recaps of the lives of major and minor characters you won't care about because most of them were clearly

    .

    A woman is murdered. Her husband did it. Their marriage is a sham. He is the lamest murderer I've ever met. The house they live in may be

    I'm befuddled by the positive reviews I'm reading here but it's not the first time I've felt like this, and it definitely won't be the last.

    The book is nicely written, which is the only positive.

    Let me save you 400 pages of backstory and endless recaps of the lives of major and minor characters you won't care about because most of them were clearly

    .

    A woman is murdered. Her husband did it. Their marriage is a sham. He is the lamest murderer I've ever met. The house they live in may be cursed. The end.

    See how many trees I just saved?

    But let me be clear. This is not a thriller. This is not scary. And it is not

    . Why do people use words they have no idea how to use? There are no thrills or chills to titillate or shock you into submission of stupendous horror.

    Lately, I seem to be reading books with the same characters but in different settings; weak, submissive woman who gets shafted into marriage; adulterous, arrogant husband who does what he wants because...well, he's male. Minor characters who weave in and out of their lives but serve little to move the story forward if only to add small acts of tension or serve to demonstrate why the husband is such a dick.

    But my main issue was that I couldn't believe George Clare is a murderer. An adulterous asshole, sure, a lying prick, most definitely, but did I discern, from the way his personality and character is drawn, that he is a vengeful, violent man?

    I think he is a two dimensional coward, a cliche stereotype of a man who thinks he's better than everyone around him, but not a murderer.

    I was sympathetic to the Hale brothers, a small shining surprise in the glut of 400 pages, but they were the needles in a haystack you had to sort through from the other trifling details of the lives of the supporting characters in the small town.

    Do I care that the sheriff's daughter is a junkie?

    No, not really.

    Do I care that the sheriff and his wife get divorced years after what appears to be a sound marriage?

    Nope.

    I just wanted the book to end.

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