I just finished a book called Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan. It basically a story about three generations of women and their interactions that takes place in their summer home in Maine. The house was purchased by the patriarch when Alice and he were first married. They spent many a summer there and after he died she summered there by herself. The story takes place mainly during one particular summer while she is there and then the other characters come in. First she is visited by her granddaughter and then her daughter-in-law and then her daughter. It is a very good story with some twists and turns that you would not expect.
Once of the reasons I loved the story so much is that it reminded me of the house my late stepfather had in the Poconos. His parents bought it in the 1930s and when his father died my stepfather was given the property as he was the only male heir. He and his mother summered there until she passed and then he would go up all summer and my mother would go up occasionally (they had a strange relationship). The house was situated on the lake with 200 feet of lakefront property which my stepfather had acquired over time. It was a beautiful place and I loved going up there. When my stepfather passed, the house was sold as my mother didn’t really want to continue to go up. It was a very emotional time for me the last time we went up to get my stepfather’s car, which he had left for my son. We had gone up in the winter and the house was cold and damp. Even though there was furniture still there, the soul of the places seemed to have passed on as well as the person.
The house, like the house in the story, represented something that was associated with so many memories of friends of my stepfather’s, my family members, and friends that my husband and I were allowed to bring up when we were given the house for a weekend or so. The times we spent there are a family were memorable but probably special more because of the house than because of my family. The house kind of represented a third party in the cohesiveness that our family shared there. After my stepfather died, like when the patriarch of the family in the book died, things began to fall apart. It seems as if in both cases the person who died acted as a peace keeper of sorts with the house acting as the foundation for everything. That seemed as if it was a lifetime ago and many things have changed since then. Funny how a house can be all that.