Finished August 9
The Arsonist by Sue Miller
Frankie has worked as an aid worker in east Africa for fifteen years, and come home regularly during that time. This time is different. She isn't sure when she'll be going back, or even if she'll go back at all. She's come to stay with her parents in Pomeroy, New Hampshire. Her parents recently retired to the vacation home that has been in her mother's family for generations.
The first night there, Frankie wakes in the night, still on a different time zone, exhausted but unable to sleep. Instead she gets up and takes a walk.
Later that night a fire call goes out. A house up the street from Frankie's parents has burnt down, the fire call going out too late to save the house. When more houses go up in flames, the concern in the community mounts, and talks of arson escalate.
Frankie moves into her sister's unfinished cabin down the hill from her parent's place, the thought being that having it occupied will reduce the likelihood of it being a target for whoever is setting the fires. With all the targets being homes owned by summer people, there is talk of resentment by a local being at the root of the crimes.
At one of the first summer parties Frankie attended, she met the local newspaper editor, Bud, and the two connected. As she begins a relationship with him, she still holds back, unsure of what she wants, or what is next in her life. Bud wants something with Frankie, but is afraid of pushing too hard, and his work with the paper keeps him busy, especially with all the fires.
Meanwhile Frankie's father Alfie is having episodes where his memory seems to be failing. He mother Sylvia is both worried and resentful, and unsure what the future holds for her. As Frankie tries to help, a crisis with Alfie will change everything.
This is a story about a community, about the complex nature of relationships, about how taking a chance means risking heartbreak.