Review: The Barrowfields

The Barrowfields

The Barrowfields
By Phillip Lewis
Hogarth Press, Hardcover, 9780451495648, March 2017, 368pp.

The Short of It:

A father and son story but really a story about family relationships and what it means to come home.

The Rest of It:

Henry Aster’s father returns to the small Appalachian town where he grew up and moves his family into a house with a past. The dark, immense home was once the scene of a grisly murder involving young children. Its looming presence foreshadowing the unraveling of the family to come.

From the description it sounds like a ghost story and maybe it is but not the kind you’d be expecting. This story focuses on the relationship between father and son, missed-opportunities, and at its heart, how we process grief and loss.

After a terrible loss, Henry’s father, a brilliant man trying to reinvent himself as a writer, struggles with what he’s been dealt. The entire family struggles with him but in different ways. Instead of coming together, they push each other away and it’s incredibly heartbreaking to witness.

There is a lot of good to be had in this novel. The writing is lovely but the Asters are readers so there are plenty of literary references that I jotted down. I love when books mention other books. But what I really loved was the slow build of what eventually causes the family to fall apart. There is a lot of tension in this novel which made the page turns go that much faster.

However, one section of the novel strayed from the main story which seemed a little out of left field but I was very happy to see how it fit into the story as a whole once I got to the end of the book. The final pages are gold. I reread them many times and loved them to pieces.

One of my favorite books of all time is A Separate Peace by John Knowles and although The Barrowfields is nothing like that book in story, the “coming-of-age” aspect of this novel reminds me a lot of A Separate Peace and yes, maybe even the main character reminds me of it, too.

I say, read it.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Sunday Matters: Routines

Sunday Matters

This past week had me thinking about routines. In one sense it’s comforting to know what you will be doing for the week but the same stuff day in and day out wears on a person. Burnout is real and I am so there. My focus this week is to mix it up in some way. Something different. Something enjoyable. Something.

Right Now:

My son took his girlfriend to prom last night so he is currently passed out. They looked really good and my son made a LED, light-up corsage and boutonnière out of La La Land sheet music. The theme was City of Stars (La La Land).

Corsage and boutonnière.

Prom 2017

I am just sitting here with my coffee looking out on what I hope will be a green lawn soon.  We had the gardener tear up our poor, drought-affected yard yesterday so soon we will have green again.  I sure hope we don’t lose it next summer due to drought. We really need to hardscape but no money for that at the moment. Even this is costing a bit to do with the space being so large. And… there are already gopher holes this morning which really make me mad.

This Week:

Rehearsals for Shrek are moving along and this Tuesday my daughter is singing in a choir festival. She’s up for a scholarship so fingers are crossed that she will get one. My son is working tech for Bring It On the musical. It will be weird to have him backstage for a show but it’s all part of his Arts Admin focus. Also signed the girl up for a volleyball clinic because she has decided to go for the volleyball team in high school along with track.


I am reading my book club pick for May, Please Look After Mom and it’s really good, and really sad. A bit too close to home given my mom’s passing in November. I’m also reading the “new” Murakami collection, Men Without Women, but the stories are not all new which is a little disappointing since it was advertised as such.


The Bates Motel series finale is on Monday and seriously, anything could happen. This show has been rock solid throughout its run and I am hoping the final episode does the series justice. I am really going to miss the series.

Since all my shows are ending, I have been watching old TV shows like Bob Newhart, Chips and Emergency! I love old TV shows!


This weather makes me want to grill something outside. I really love grilled fish but the kids are not fans. Chicken gets boring. Maybe pork chops?

I’m also wanting chili for some reason. On Instagram I saw a post for turkey chili over sautéed zucchini and although it doesn’t sound all that great it sure looked good. Anything to get the veggies in!

Oh! I found some wine I really like. I don’t know much about wine but I know what I like and what I don’t like. I like red wine but it’s usually too dry for me. I tried this wine the other day and it was really good. Reminded me of sangria. I feel like I need to buy a case or two.

Grateful for:

That wine. No, seriously.

Chatting with friends about books and life…