Ginny, the book’s narrator, is also its central figure. A quiet farmwife who dislikes confrontations and remains emotionally dominated by her father, she is living with repressed memories of abuse and incest that have unknowingly shaped her adult life. Although she is outwardly content in her marriage, she longs for children and has spent most of her life accommodating herself to other people’s wishes. When memories of her father’s abuse resurface, her emotional world is shattered. The situation is exacerbated by her pain over the outcome of her affair with Jess. Her attempt to poison her sister is an outgrowth of her despair and long-suppressed anger; afterward, she is able to regain her emotional balance and begin a new life.
Rose has not repressed her memories of incest, and she is filled with rage and hatred for her father. Her own marriage is often unhappy and sometimes abusive, yet she is in many ways freer that Ginny. Rose is able to express herself openly and is unafraid of her own feelings. Yet, she too remains under her father’s thumb, spending her life as a farmer’s wife and giving in to Larry Cook’s demanding, domineering ways. Her determination to safeguard her own daughters gives a focus to Rose’s life, and she faces her death with courage, tying up loose ends and arranging for her children’s care.
Larry Cook remains largely an enigma as seen through the eyes of the daughters he has abused and molested. A hard,...
(The entire section is 573 words.)