The Second Life of Samuel Tyne
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In this riveting narrative of family and middle-age angst, Esi Edugyan gives us Aster, an all-white suburban enclave. Far removed from the frenzied ways of city life, this small town at first seems an idyllic place to hide away, a place for a man like Samuel Tyne—an African immigrant caught in an impassive marriage, nursing a tenuous connection to his twin daughters, and harboring a growing hatred for his government job—to escape to. When his uncle Jacob suddenly dies, leaving him a rural estate, Samuel promptly packs up his reluctant family, and moves them to his uncle's crumbling mansion. But Samuel soon discovers that Aster is not the haven he had wished for. In fact, there's a strangeness to the town only to be outdone by the strangeness of his own daughters, who are particularly affected by the town's odd goings-on, including a number of mysterious fires. In short order, the new life Samuel Tyne envisioned for himself begins to disintegrate as a dark current of menace is turned upon his family.
Already a book-club favorite, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne is a foreboding and mesmeric read from a welcome and dazzling new voice.
answers. Her first words startled Samuel, who realized without being conscious of it that over seven years had passed since he’d heard that voice. Though its golden inflections were lost, it was largely the same. Samuel felt a cramp in his heart. Clearing his throat, he said, “Yvie. Yvette. Your mother passed away last week.” She seemed not to understand. Samuel began to repeat the news when he was admonished by the orderly: “Don’t overexcite her.” The only sign Yvette had heard Samuel at all
friend at all for that matter, he couldn’t fathom. She was the most charming girl Samuel had ever seen, with skin the colour of oats and almond-shaped eyes of a nameless hue. Samuel unconsciously clasped his hands. He was aware that, despite the pristine lines in his suit and the elegant way he’d placed his bowler on his head, he smelled distinctly of solder. He laughed a little, and the girl frowned and wouldn’t meet his eyes. He cleared his throat. “Samuel Tyne,” he said, offering his hand, in
millions of grasshoppers covered everything for a distance of miles. They say it was like black snow. It’d happened a few years before, too, so people were a little bit more prepared then, but not much. Supposedly, as my cousin tells it anyhow, you were supposed to know it was coming because all the dogs in town got weirdly quiet, the badgers and snakes came out of their holes, and there was a ‘brown sort of tension in the air,’ whatever that means. So Porter was one of the town’s founders, you
row, she found two dozen hairbrushes. Some brass, some wooden, some of a plastic fashioned after gold. All lay with their handles at an exacting forty-five-degree angle. Their charms had been lost long ago, most of them broken or bent. Nevertheless, care had been taken with them, their handles glowing with polish, not a single hair to be found in their naked bristles. It surprised Ama that Chloe could be so delicate with anything. Ama picked one up, fingering its engraved handle. Had these first
bench, and the dust he roused each time he moved gave him a vague pleasure. Despite this, he still felt painfully preoccupied. It surprised him that he could be unhappy in his new freedom. Samuel’s hackles rose when he heard the shed door’s hinges rattling. He turned to see Yvette standing in the doorway, dwarfed in her mother’s wool sweater. Her thin, chapped knees peeked overtop a pair of his own rain boots. With her serious face, she looked like an old woman who’d shrunk. She let in the dry,