The Senator's Children

Tin House. Nov. 2017. 376p. ISBN 9781941040799. pap. $15.95. F
On the surface, this new novel by Montemarano (The Book of Why; A Fine Place) appears to be another retelling of an archetypal American political story. A married man runs for public office, spends many exhausting and lonely days on the campaign trail, and eventually betrays his wife and family by having an affair. Shame, embarrassment, and public ridicule follow. However, the author is after something much deeper, tracing the collateral damage across generations as it lives in the hearts and minds of those affected by it. In particular, the novel focuses on Betsy, the daughter of philandering politician David Christie, who serves as a kind of parent/counselor to her mother and father as they navigate their separation and postdivorce life. Betsy is a wonderfully drawn character—compassionate, reflective, and acutely responsive to the complex and shifting emotional states of her parents. Betsy's journey through this family trauma is poignant and heartbreaking, but it ultimately brings the gifts of humility, acceptance, and calm. In the end, she achieves a kind of stoic wisdom, fully realized and beautifully rendered.
VERDICT This wonderfully affected novel is recommended for all fans of literary fiction.
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