The Storm at the Door
By Stefan Merrill Block
(Random House Trade Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780812981797, 384pp.)
Publication Date: December 31, 2035
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Even after two decades of volatile marriage, Katharine Merrill still remembers when her husband, Frederick, was attentive, witty, and charming. Frederick’s behaviors and moods have since darkened, and Katharine has tried to keep up appearances, hoping for the best. But in the summer of 1962, when a cocktail party ends with her husband in handcuffs, Katharine makes a fateful decision: She commits Frederick to Mayflower Home, America’s most revered mental asylum, repository for great poets, intellectuals, and madmen. While Frederick attempts to transform his incarceration into a creative exercise, Katharine struggles to raise four young daughters—and find her way back to her husband through her own ambiguities, delusions, and the damages done by her belief in a life she no longer lives.
Inspired by elements of the lives of the author’s grandparents, this mesmerizing love story shifts through time and reaches across generations. Along the way, Stefan Merrill Block illuminates an age-old truth: even if one’s daily life appears ordinary, one can still wage a silent, secret, extraordinary war.
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Stefan Merrill Block is the author of The Story of Forgetting. He was born in 1982 and grew up in Plano, Texas. He graduated from Washington University in St. Louis in 2004. This is his second novel. He lives in Brooklyn.
“A great love story . . . a beautiful book.”―NPR
“Powerful, enthralling, unforgettable.”―Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!
“Brilliant . . . [a] heartbreaking love story of an enduring marriage . . . Stefan Merrill Block is an amazing writer, at once cerebral and tender, lyrical and profound.”—Kate Christensen, author of The Great Man, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award
“Remarkable . . . Alternating between Frederick’s struggles on the ward and Katharine’s efforts at home with their children, The Storm at the Door is a richly imagined, haunting account of how the mind can betray the heart, and vice versa.”—People (four stars)
“A remarkable work of literary fiction, a beguiling look at the interstices of language and sanity, memory and history.”—Associated Press
“[Block] masterfully pulls the reader through this heartbreaking story, making readers care deeply about what happens to his characters, as flawed as they are at times. It’s this generation’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Beguiling . . . a sharply perceptive, at times wrenching portrait of a marriage.”—The Boston Globe