After more than thirty years of marriage, Jack and Joy Griffin appear to be slowly falling apart. Perhaps their differences and the families from which they sprang have finally eroded the ties that bind them.
After their daughter’s friend’s wedding, their lives pull apart in a kind of floundering meander.
In a back and forth narrative, we slowly see the family moments the two have shared, from their beginning, as well as the childhood memories that Jack, the narrator of That Old Cape Magic, (known to most as Griffin), brings to the table; and then we begin to understand the disappointments, the crushed dreams, and the unresolved issues that have piled up. Crushed by a seemingly gigantic mountain, we have to wonder if there is anything left for the two of them? If so, what will finally need to happen before they can recreate their union?
Marriage and its strains; inner voices, and sometimes voices from beyond; dealing with loss and death, as well as children growing up—these are all the themes that resonate for me in this story. Will there be a moment at their daughter’s wedding a year later that will show them a sign? What is the meaning of Jack’s inability to dispose of his father’s ashes, still carrying the urn around a year later? And why does his mother, who literally pestered him via cell phone, now seemingly speak to him from beyond after she, too, has died? How do the poignant memories of Cape Cod vacations seem to signify happiness in the face of ordinary life?
The story seemed full of metaphors and symbols that shine a light on the larger questions, and even some of the answers. The richly developed characters reminded me of people I have known, especially the annoying ones. I could definitely relate to how families pull and tug at the bonds of their married children, and how these warring factions could seem like the final straws that broke them. A five star read for me.