Stella would still be alive if not for the crazy confluence of factors that, when one considered the probabilities, one-in-a-million, one-in-a-billion, made it seem like the work of some all-knowing orchestrator.
Stella’s husband Hank had cut down the dogwood just two weeks prior. Had the tree been there, it might have blocked the Camaro. Stella had been in a chair in the southwest corner of the sunroom and had dozed off while reading. If her head had slumped to the other side of the armchair, she might have survived.
And there was the fence. Hank had started to rebuild it, as it had been assaulted in slow motion by creeping ivy over the years. So there was a part missing, big enough for a car. The tree. The fence. Either one would’ve slowed or altered the Camaro’s trajectory, kept it from hurtling across the yard, over the dogwood stump—orange mole on the skin of perfect green lawn—and through the flimsy wall and windows next to which Stella slept with a book sprawled across her lap.
“Long Division deals head-on with issues like abuse, alcoholism, and statutory rape. However, at its very core, this is a book about human understanding. It’s a book about recognizing that human beings, even those who are parents, are flawed individuals who don’t always make the right choices.”
“Long Division, by Sara B. Fraser, is an in-depth, introspective look into the lives of her three main characters, representing three generations of a dysfunctional family. Readers will relate to the subtle family dynamics as each character’s backstory comes alive and intertwines. Fraser narrates a world that encompasses both the cultivated and the corrupt. She interjects into the story the full range of human folly and misery – divorce, illness, alcoholism, betrayal, jealousy, and more. She doesn’t shy away from portraying her characters at their lowest ebb, as they recognize that time has been lost and that beauty and even the meaning of so much of what they once pursued has irretrievably faded away.
Long Division recently received a five-star rating from Indie Reader. “LONG DIVISION is a novel whose fluid narration and rich imagery carries a story that is deeply personal to its characters but universal in its themes.” Click to read the full review. https://indiereader.com/book_review/long-division/
A family’s dysfunctional history is revealed as a grandmother keeps a close eye on her nursing home and a granddaughter prepares for a marriage she is unsure about.
This debut novel blends the stories of Gertrude Littlefield, 94 years old and resident of a Lynn, Massachusetts, nursing home, and her granddaughter Leigh Fortune. Gertrude keeps a close eye on the other residents of her nursing home—and particularly on the growing flirtation between two of the staff members—while a series of flashbacks tells the story of her marriage to Clive and their separation before the birth of their daughter, Beverly. Leigh, Beverly’s daughter, is an accountant engaged to Mark, a man she gradually realizes is not right for her. When she checks Gertrude’s mail, Leigh learns that Beverly, an alcoholic who abandoned her children with Gertrude decades earlier, has just died, and as the reader sees how things repeat themselves from one generation to the next, Leigh slowly makes sense of how her relationships with both Gertrude and Beverly (“My experience of my mother was that she never knew the date, never mind bothering to put it on a letter”) have left her immature and also self-sabotaging, not yet ready to be part of a stable marriage. By the time the characters gather for Gertrude’s funeral in the book’s final pages, Leigh has connected with Beverly’s friend Simon, who shares stories about a sober, grounded woman very different from the irresponsible alcoholic Leigh knew. Simon’s undemanding friendship and Beverly’s personal growth give Leigh space to develop her own maturity. The novel is both quiet, focused on domestic moments and small details, and melodramatic, full of infidelity (“From not cheating to cheating feels like the tiniest little step, practically unavoidable”), bad parenting, and strong emotions. Fraser has an excellent sense of place, and her Cape Cod and North Shore settings are alive with detail. While readers may feel that some plot points are too clearly foreshadowed, the book’s events on the whole come together to form a coherent, engaging story with a satisfying resolution.
A troubled woman makes peace with her family in this well-written and introspective novel.