"That Old Cape Magic"

That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo

I've had three Richard Russo novels on my shelf waiting to be read for a couple of years now. It's not bad enough that I buy books based on covers and titles, now I'm buying them if I like the author's name. This one had a great cover, good title, and the author's name is catchy so I had to get it. Fortunately for me it turned out to be a good story as well.

It's about Jack and Joy Griffin, whose marriage of thirty years is beginning to unravel. That sounds a bit ordinary and stale as a subject, but Russo makes the characters so real, so human, that the story feels fresh and new. He writes with a compassion for them that makes you, the reader, genuinely care and root for them. In spite of their weaknesses and flaws we like them, maybe because in truth, they are a lot like us.

The story is set in Cape Cod - perfect reading for summer - but the subject is the very complicated one of family: mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, and how all of those relationships affect all the others. I don't think there's a family dynamic he hasn't touched on. The story, like real family life, is funny sometimes and then heartbreaking too. Families are the ones we love most, but they are also the ones who can drive us to the brink.

I liked this one and recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story. I hope the other two of his novels I have waiting will be as good. 


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