My first five star read of the year!
Rebecca Kauffman’s Chorus is right in my wheelhouse: literary fiction, family dynamics, multiple viewpoints, shifting timeline. It’s about a family of 7 kids living on a Virginia farm with a depressed mother who takes her life when the kids were mostly young (this is not a spoiler). Chorus tells the story of this family from the standpoint of each of the kids, filling in moments big and small from different perspectives. It’s a quiet, understated novel, told simply, and I got completely sucked in.
Why I picked it up: I enjoyed Kauffman’s novel The Gunners and put a hold on this one at the library after I read about it.
Chorus‘ plot jumps around, from big events – divorces, deaths – to small, but each chapter contributes substantively to the collective fabric of this family. Some siblings are closer than others, some are happier than others. But they are all affected by their mother’s death. The older ones took responsibility for their younger siblings, while the younger ones had only shadowy memories of their mother. In the end, what I loved about Chorus was Kauffman’s elegant, poetic writing and her ability to create complex, memorable characters with few words. In one chapter, a man takes care of his young daughter at the beach while his wife enjoys a day off with a friend. That’s really all that happens, but in those ten or so pages, Kauffman tells you everything you need to know about the man, his place in his family, and the challenges he faces in his life. All of the chapters are like that – snapshots that go surprisingly deeply into the minds and hearts of this family. Chorus‘ resolution is satisfying and hopeful without being cloying.
Oh, I just loved this book. I didn’t want it to end.
Chorus was the 14th book of 2022 and satisfies the Book With a Flower on the Cover category of the 2022 EDWITB Reading Challenge.