The Piper family on Cape Breton starts when James meets 13 year old Materia. The two fall in love, despite Materia's family who wants her to marry a good man from Lebanon rather than a local English boy. The family disowns Materia and she's left on her own with James to start their family. She gives birth to a beautiful baby named Kathleen. James and Kathleen instantly connect but Materia can't find love for this child. As father and daughter grow closer, Materia realizes that James' love for his daughter may not be natural fatherly love. Materia takes it upon herself to keep Kathleen safe from her father.
Two more girls are eventually birthed; Mercedes and Frances. Lily also is born, but does not survive. As Kathleen grows older, she shows talent for music and is a beautiful singer. James sends Kathleen to New York for voice lessons but gets an anonymous note stating the child is in danger. James immediately brings home Kathleen, who is pregnant, and eventually gives birth to Lily and Ambrose. Ambrose dies but Lily thrives despite having Polio as a child.
Lily is raised as a sister to Mercedes and Frances. At times, it's as if they have no father. Mercedes being the mom to the other two, Frances being the rebel, and Lily being innocent.
The books starts off very interesting, with a lot of drama. The first half of the book plays out with a common problem and tension on whether James will keep his hands of Kathleen. However once Kathleen is out of the picture, the book starts to fall apart for me. It becomes chaotic with too much going on, many things that I don't understand why they are happening. I had to google a synopsis of the book once I finished to understand why Frances was acting out. Once getting the answer to that, I still didn't understand why. The book ended in a confusing, muddled mess for me, which is too bad since the first part was quite engaging.
First Line: "They're all dead now."