Review: The Year of Past Things by M. A Harper
When a man marries a widow with children, he should expect a certain amount of personal baggage, but what Phil Randazzo experiences in The Year of Past things is something else altogether.
Shortly after marrying Michelle and moving into her home with her two children from her previous marriage to well known, local musician, A.P Savoie, Phil finds out that starting a new life with someone doesn’t necessarily mean that they are quite done with their old one.
At first, he must learn to deal with the quaint, yet sometimes troubling attachment to the family “ghost”, Casper. Michelle explains this as a comfort/coping device that her young daughter adopted after her husband’s death. A sort of imaginary guardian angel. Phil, a no-nonsense, practical type, has some trouble with this, but realizes that dealing with a little girl with inherited artistic tendencies requires some allowances on his part. Added to this, Phil must learn to deal with the guilt -inspired emotional issues of Michelle’s teenage son. The son, feeling at fault for the accident that led to his father’s death three years before, has had trouble coping with the loss, despite Phil taking the boy under his wing by giving him training as a chef.
When a trip to the Savoie family home in observance of All Saint’s Day stirs up old memories and feelings, and other odd and somewhat supernatural things begin to occur in their home, Phil, Michelle and the children begin a year long journey along a path that will take them through a forest of pain, loss, discovery, acceptance, remembrance and finally- perhaps- resolution.
Set against the backdrop of New Orleans, with its own unique patina of history, mysticism, music and magic, this story of a family finding its way through the rough waters of grief and guilt and misgiving has an intriguing flavor that might be missing in a tale set elsewhere. Harper uses the back drop of New Orleans very well, without resorting to any type of supernatural stereotype. The setting gives subtle but effective spice to an already rich and intriguing story. Well worth the read for those who enjoy a rich story of family drama- even more so for those who like a little supernatural spice added to the drama.
Available at Simple Pleasures Books:
http://spbooks1.alibrisstore.com/ And other retailers.