The Glass Castle meets The Nest in this stunning debut, an intimate family memoir that gracefully brings us behind the dappled beachfront vista of privilege to reveal the inner lives of two wonderfully colorful, unforgettable families.
On a mid-August weekend in 1983, two families assemble for a wedding at a rambling mansion on the beach in East Hampton, in the last days of the area's quietly refined country splendor, before traffic jams and high-end boutiques morphed the peaceful enclave into “the Hamptons.” The weather is perfect; the tent is in place on the lawn.
But as the festivities are readied, the father of the bride and paterfamilias of the beachfront manse suffers a massive stroke from alcohol withdrawal and lies in a coma in the hospital in the next town. Yet the wedding goes on at the insistence of Jeanne McCulloch's theatrical mother, for the sake of protocol and keeping up appearances. Instead of going on their planned honeymoon, the newlyweds stash their wedding presents in the attic, arrangements are made for a funeral, and a team of lawyers arrives armed with papers for McCulloch and her siblings to sign.
So begins McCulloch's vivid memoir of her wedding weekend and its aftereffects. As she reveals, the repercussions from that weekend will ripple throughout her own family and through her in-laws' lives as they all grapple with questions of loyalty, tradition, marital honor, hope, and loss.
Impressionistic and lyrical, at turns both witty and heartrending, All Happy Families is McCulloch's clear-eyed account of her struggle to hear her own voice amid the noise of social mores and family dysfunction, in a world where all that glitters on the surface is not gold, and each unhappy family is ultimately unhappy in its own way.
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