The Barrowfields: A Novel
Phillip Lewis’s expressive debut is a quiet, mournful novel that celebrates character, setting, and language. In a bleak and secluded town in the mountains of North Carolina, Henry Aster grows up observing his intelligent father, whose obsession with writing his magnum opus pulls him into isolation and depression. When misfortune befalls the Aster family, Henry’s father disastrously comes undone; in response, Henry deserts his family. Years later, haunted by the memories of his childhood in Old Buckram, Henry ventures back home in hopes of coming to terms with his painful past. Similar in tone and style to Southern Gothic literature, The Barrowfields features the inextricable lure of home and the power of regret.
The novel’s many plotless digressions bog down the flow of the story, and the book would have likely benefited from some major revisions; however, it is precisely these seemingly superfluous moments that are most impressively written with incredible sincerity and hushed intensity. Lewis’s highbrow prose is teeming with life; its rich scenes pulse with stunning scenery and erratic characters. This deeply moving novel is charged with family drama and will appeal especially to readers with an appreciation for literature and classical music.