My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Things We Knew revolves around Lynette Carlisle who is the youngest child of a large and troubled family. Resentment is rife in the Carlisle family and has kept the older children away. After their mother’s death, Lynette’s four siblings left Nantucket and left her to care for their alcoholic father on her own. Drake is no longer drinking; however, he is quickly losing touch with the present.
Lynette can’t keep their home and her father together. Her small salary and the occasional sale of her paintings can’t bring in enough money to keep Lynette and her father going. The house is falling down around them and the bills are mounting. She needs to sell her childhood home, but her mother’s will stipulates that all the children agree and are present before any action is taken. The family drama that ensues is believable and gripping.
The issues between the Carlisle siblings are intensified by the presence of Nick Cooper, their neighbor and childhood friend. Nick has always loved Lynette but the bad blood between the two families make him reluctant to pursue her. This romance is further complicated by the secret Nick is keeping from Lynette. Nick was my favorite character in the novel. He is complex and conflicted – everything you’d want in a romantic character.
Side note: I grew up in Massachusetts and spent many summers on Cape Cod and the islands. I appreciated how Catherine West forgoes the kitschy depictions and portrays Nantucket as a beautiful and sometimes harsh place. The descriptions of how the wind and salt have affected the family home were an astute metaphor for the effects of time and secrets on the people residing inside.
Thank you to NetGalley for a review copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.