“Nobody ever said, ‘Here’s your family. What do you think?’ You just got them. Or you didn’t get them.
Have truer words ever been spoken?
Author Kris D’Agostino spins a lovely tale in The Antiques about a modern-day family finding their way through the death, and its aftermath, of the family patriarch. Ana and George were married for a thousand years and the resentments between them were big and typical, but she finds herself lost with his passing.
Ana’s adult children converge on the family home in Hudson, New York, some more willingly than others. Armie just comes up from the basement, as that’s where he’s been living for the last six years. Josef, the financial prodigy AND prodigal son, drags himself away from his self-absorbed life in the city. And, Charlie, the only daughter, comes in from L.A. after throwing a tantrum of her own on her tantrum-driven movie star client. All the old family wounds are reopened and no one acts as they should, but this is real family life, albeit more drastic and eminently more humorous.
D’Agostino’s story telling seems like a literary trick. He somehow lays out his prose in a way that makes you feel as though you are the director of a film shooting each scene, watching each take, from behind the camera. He sets up vignettes that run for pages at a stretch in which each character’s role is made crucial not just through dialogue, but through location and timing as well. At the start, you can almost hear a call for ‘action,’ and at the end, one for ‘cut.’ It is a beautiful way to witness a story unfolding.
Are all the hurts erased at the end? Does everyone finally get their acts together? Probably not. But D’Agostino has that author’s knack of wrapping things up with a denouement of family camaraderie that leaves you feeling hopeful and appreciative of your own dysfunctional one.
Elizabeth's rating: 4.5 stars