After the unexpected deaths of his parents, both of them suicides and within an hour of each other, Wyatt Hillyer begins a new life and new career, learning the craft of sled- and toboggan-making under the caring eye of his uncle in 1941 Halifax, Nova Scotia. While confronting the grief, shock, and shame of his parents’ acts, he also comes face-to-face with the reality of World War II when German U-boats wreak havoc off the Canadian coast. First love and the consequences of a horrible crime and cover-up are just a couple of turns Wyatt also navigates. Revealed as a letter from the mature Wyatt to his daughter, Howard Norman’s story of WHAT IS LEFT THE DAUGHTER (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25) is an exquisite narrative of love, family duty, loss, and responsibility.
Written as a series of letters from the narrator, Wyatt Hillyer, to his twenty-one-year-old-daughter, Marlais, Howard Norman’s What Is Left The Daughter (Mariner, $13.95) tells a rich, dramatic story set in the Canadian Maritimes during World War II as German U-boats stalked Canadian shipping. After the tragic and surprising deaths of his parents, Hillyer moves in with his aunt, uncle, and cousin in a small town. When a young German scholar moves to town, amid the fear and suspicion brought on by the war, allegiances are tested, and love, lust, and jealousy fuel a series of events that can’t be undone. Norman’s unerring sense of character, language, pacing, and plot make this an unforgettable novel.