That Old Cape Magic – Richard Russo

Title: That Old Cape Magic
Author: Richard Russo
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 2009
Pages: 261
Rating: ★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars.

Another great Richard Russo novel. I could tell that he has supplanted Larry McMurtry as my favorite author when I had both this and Rhino Ranch on my bedside table and picked this to read first.

The first part is great Russo with great descriptions of relationships. Griffin is the protagonist and the story opens as he and his wife are traveling separately to the wedding of Kelsey, his daughter’s best friend. Part 1 develops relationships and compares Griffins parents and childhood with his wife’s. There is some beautiful descriptions, like this on page 117 where Griffin is looking at his daughter and her boyfriend, soon to be fiance:

“… they looked like what they were, two young people who’d waited what had seemed like forever to find each other. Now they clung tightly together in the understanding of how lucky they were, that in another equally plausible scenario they wouldn’t have met, still be alone still looking”

It wouldn’t be Russo without some big problems, and Part 2 gets right to it with this opening paragraph:

“How quickly it had all fallen apart. Even a year later, most of it spent in L.A. the speed of what happened after Kelsey’s wedding took Griffin’s breath away”

I read that paragraph, and immediately put the book back down realizing I’d have to prepare myself before diving in.

Russo ties together many relationships, so we can see the richness and complexity of life. Griffin’s parents had an on and off relationship and no seeming love for Griffin as he grew up. As a result he spends his adulthood keeping his wife and daughter away from his parents. In contrast, his wife Joy had a wonderful relationship with her family, a big family and Griffin only grudgingly comes to terms with this. We also get a snapshot of the relationship between a couple of strangers in a bar; the woman (Marguerite) wanting a special evening and her date, Harold, being a total clod. Another family we see in great retrospective of a family Griffin meets on the cape one summer as a child.

In the acknowledgments, he credits (among others) his mother who had recently passed away.

One nice thing is that has a fairly happy ending. What really brings me back over and over is keen eye when exploring relationships. Two Russo books in 1 year! Bonus.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars.

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