The Tell: A Novel
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An elegant and haunting novel of love and family, The Tell demands that we reconsider our notions of marriage—duty, compromise, betrayal, and the choice to stand by or leave the ones we love.
Mira and Owen's marriage is less stable than they know when Wilton Deere, an aging, no longer famous TV star moves in to the grand house next door. With plenty of money and plenty of time to kill, Wilton is charming but ruthless as he inserts himself into the couple's life in a quest for distraction, friendship—and most urgently—a connection with Anya, the daughter he abandoned years earlier. Facing stresses at home and work, Mira begins to accompany Wilton to a casino and is drawn to the slot machines. Escapism soon turns to full-on addiction and a growing tangle of lies and shame that threatens her fraying marriage and home. Betrayed and confused, Owen turns to the mysterious Anya, who is testing her own ability to trust her father after many years apart.
The Tell is a finely-wrought novel about risk: of dependence, of responsibility, of addiction, of trust, of violence. Told with equal parts suspense, sympathy, and psychological complexity, it shows us the intimate and shifting ways in which we reveal ourselves before we act, and what we assume but don’t know about those closest to us.
century behind rosy paper, chunks of plaster fell in puffs of toxic dust. The walls would have to come down to the studs, a job for the summer, Owen knew. A hole opened up to where the air was warm and fusty with the breath of another century. He’d heard of people finding love letters and confessions, stashes of money, bottles that were empty except for the gold stain of dried booze, behind old walls. He pressed his eye to the hole; maybe he’d discover in there some understanding of how it was
said. “Maybe it’s time you stop thinking about it.” He stood to shake off the unease his father’s question always provoked. “Stop asking, while you’re at it.” “I can’t very well control what I do or do not think about,” Edward said, made petulant by the wine and the hour. He held Mira’s hand in his and looked at her. “We’re much closer to tragedy than we ever think.” “But sometimes we see it coming and we move away. O dodged it, didn’t he?” Mira asked. “Nothing happened to him.” They’d had
fall to disappointment or rise to enchantment. She was right: that instant of expectation was brilliant and always, necessarily, fleeting. It was what made you come back for more of everything. But hope wasn’t harmless. The man on Mira’s left and the woman on her right were enthralled by their own motions of hand to coin to slot to arm or button. They watched the spinning wheels but seemed almost not to notice or care what was happening. Mostly, they looked bored. Their expressions reminded him
okay and how it should be. It was how he felt about himself. He took some aspirin and a sleeping pill well past its discard-after date, and lay down on the bed but did not get in it. He might not get in it ever again. He didn’t exist here—he was just an idea of himself. He would sleep, he would dream that everything was going to be just fine. He would wake up and do what he had to do to fix things. He blinked at the dark ceiling and didn’t know where he was or how long he’d been asleep. A
him a silent nod and went around back where his car was parked and two cats huddled in conference by the garbage cans. The temperature had risen eerily and the streets were hidden in fog. His wipers smeared the glass, and light burst into spikes on the highway. He could guess the number of times Mira had made this same trip, and yet she still didn’t know where she was? There was nothing to notice, she’d once said about the drive to the casino: no wild building, no cross with plastic flowers on