The Complicities

Algonquin. Sept. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781643751962. $27. F
D’Erasmo’s fifth novel (after Wonderland) is told in the voice of the 50-ish Suzanne, whose lifestyle as a wealthy housewife ends abruptly when her husband, Alan, a charming sociopath, is imprisoned for financial crimes. She divorces him, estranging herself from her son, and moves to a Cape Cod resort town, where she ekes out a modest existence as a masseuse. Suzanne volunteers with community members assisting a whale beached on a nearby shore, prompting musings on society’s wider complicities in destroying the environment. Later—the novel’s timeline is purposefully vague—Alan is released and marries a once beautiful woman named Lydia, now partially disfigured from a fiery accident. Suzanne ultimately connects with Lydia and Alan’s mother, Sylvia, a nomadic older woman who supports herself through small-time gambling and must ultimately ask herself how complicit she was in Alan’s crime.
VERDICT This enjoyable novel is filled with intriguing characters, whom D’Erasmo wrangles with deft changes of viewpoint, and the prose abounds with lyrical imagery. But its particular strength is its examination of that liminal space between innocence and culpability, leaving readers to judge whether these characters are as innocent as they want to believe.
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