Why is it great? When I moved back to New England last year after nearly a lifetime away, John Cheever’s debut novel about a quirky New England family was the first thing I read. This sentence, near the beginning, captured the character of the mother but also the book itself, which is shot through with melancholy and a family’s sense of history — and the feeling of being trapped by the weight of that history. Perhaps the most lovely part is that beautifully evocative combination of orange rinds and wood smoke; I can taste it, and the sweet-bitter sorrow.

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