Catherine Hunter · Fiction

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After Light is the sumptuously rendered tale of four generations of the Garrison family, whose story begins when young Deirdre flees Ireland in 1920 to seek a better life in Brooklyn. The secrets she carries with her will bend the fates of not only Deirdre, but all who come after her. Her son Frank, a promising young artist, is blinded in WW2 and forced to create a whole new life for himself. He marries and settles in Canada, where his wife raises hothouse roses on the frozen prairie. But the war has shaken him deeply, and his two daughters, Von and Rosheen, live in terror of his violent outbursts.

As the girls grow up, they grow apart. Rosheen, badly scarred by her childhood, takes refuge in her art and her pain medication. Von falls in love with a young man who cannot understand her sense of duty toward her troubled family. And then the family is torn apart by a shocking act of betrayal and an unbearable tragedy. In the aftermath, Rosheen moves to New York to live with Deirdre and begins the work that will one day make her name as an artist. But Von, too bitter to engage with the world, clings to home and refuses to care for anything except the roses in the greenhouse. When Rosheen dies and leaves behind an unfinished art project, based on family history, intended for an upcoming major show in New York, Von is forced out of seclusion.

In her efforts to complete this project before the opening of the exhibit, Von travels to Ireland and Holland, completing Rosheen's research and gathering her art works. In the process, she discovers that the past is much more complicated — and richer — than she could have ever imagined.