Tag Archives: Sue Miller

‘The Arsonist’ by Sue Miller

The ArsoniststarstarAlthough I would recommend this author, I would not recommend this particular one of hers. It was actually a bit boring, which is surprising because the setup of suspicious fires in a small town is a promising one. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the book particularly compelling or satisfying and it was a disappointing read.

The story takes place in small town USA, a close knit farming community where people both live year-round and also just come for the summer months. The author plays with the concept of “home” in quite a few ways. There is the tension between the ‘summer people’ and the year-rounders. The main character Frankie has just returned to the US from working in Africa, and is struggling with ‘re-entry’ as many overseas workers do. Her parents have just retired and are actually transitioning from being summer people to year-rounders, as they settle into the town permanently. Frankie’s father no longer feels at home in his own body since he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

So there is lots of confusion and questioning around the concept of “home” even as homes are physically being burned to the ground in the town…and oddly, only the summer homes are being hit.

Miller’s books are usually more thoughtful and intense. I would say she is similar to Anne Tyler in type and style of novel. I was surprised to be so unimpressed with this one, but that happens. If you have read this author, which one of hers did you like best? I have read four others, but it was before I started this blog and I can’t remember! 🙂