By Chin-Sun Lee
A middle-class ex-Manhattanite, a cash-strapped single mother, and a young member of an obscure religious “sect,” become entangled in a Catskills town.
Claire Pedersen and her husband are relocating from NYC to the Catskills—they have found a terrific deal on a property in foreclosure. The house has been in April Ives’ family for three generations, but the single mother of three children from two different fathers needs the money. Claire and April are instantly antagonistic, but the sale proceeds, and renovations begin.
Soon after, Claire’s husband develops an erotic fascination with Anna, a young member of a nearby religious community called The Eternals. Two marriages—and one pregnancy—swiftly and dramatically end. Claire is left to finish the renovation and salvage the life she had imagined. April, meanwhile, is dealing with her ex who has just been released from prison on a drug charge and the decision of whether or not to let him build a relationship with the son he has never known.
Life “upcountry” means close encounters between disparate social classes: Claire and April navigate mutual dislike and unanticipated empathy. The house remains a sore point for both. Anna is the unhappy fulcrum between the two older women. Shunned from The Eternals since the incident with Claire’s husband, she yearns to return to their protection. Anna’s strict views on transgression and penance are baffling to April; for Claire, Anna remains the embodiment of her ruined marriage.