Abandoned by a succession of relatives, the sisters find themselves in the care of Sylvie, the remote and enigmatic sister of their dead mother.
Steeped in imagery of the bleak wintry landscape around them, the sisters’ struggle towards adulthood is powerfully portrayed in a novel about loss, loneliness and transience.
Winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award.
“I love and have lived with this book . . . it holds a unique and quiet place among the masterpieces of 20th century American fiction.” Paul Bailey
“I found myself reading slowly, than more slowly–this is not a novel to be hurried through, for every sentence is a delight.” Doris Lessing
“So precise, so distilled, so beautiful that one doesn’t want to miss any pleasure it might yield.” Le Anne Schreiber, The New York Times Book Review
“Here’s a first novel that sounds as if the author has been treasuring it up all her life…You can feel in the book a gathering voluptuous release of confidence, a delighted surprise at the unexpected capacities of language, a close, careful fondness for people that we thought only saints felt.” Anatole Broyard, The New York Times