In the Fold Review
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When Michael was in college, he was invited to a mysterious place called Egypt, the majestic home of his friend, Adam Hanbury. There, he met Adamís eccentric familyóhis outgoing father, his wealthy stepmother, and his mother, who was perfectly comfortable with her arrangement as a frequent guest at her ex-husbandís home. Now, years later, Michael still holds on to a vivid memory of his time at Egypt, and he often thinks about his friendship with Adam, who still lives nearby, though theyíve grown apart over the years.

When the balcony on Michaelís home collapses right behind him, he decides that itís time to reconnect with his old friend. Over the phone, Adam tells Michael that he could use some help on his fatherís farm, since the farmís ewes are about to give birth, and Adamís father is in the hospital. So Michael packs up his three-year-old son, Hamish, and says good-bye to his wife, Rebeccaówhoís quite happy to see the two of them go.

On Michaelís return to Egypt, however, he finds that things arenít quite as he remembers them. Adamís stepmother, Vivian, spouts out complaints while cooking them barely-edible meals in her dark kitchen. Adamís mother, Audrey, complains that her allowance has been cut off. Strange, bitter siblings come and go through the house, which seems to have been taken over by the familyís uncontrollable hounds. And Adamís father, Paul, complains that no oneís been to visit him in the hospital. As if that werenít enough, Adam also confides in Michael that heís seen his fatherís books, and the farmís running at a huge loss.

During his visit, Michael gains new perspective on the things heíd always held as true. Not only does he see Adamís family in a new light, but he also sees his marriage, his wife, and himself differently, too.

In the Fold is a darkly comedic novel by Whitbread Award winner Cusk. Itís definitely not cheery chick-lit, though each of the characters is amusing in his or her own quirky way. It took me a while to get into the slow-moving, reflective storyóand, to be honest, I never could get fully into it. While many of the characters are intriguing, the story itself had the same dark, drab feeling of the Hanbury familyís old home. And although I found the book well-written and thoughtful, it was just a bit too dreary for my taste.

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