The year is 1936, and the world is on the brink of war. American expatriate Edward Mason, owner of a failing machine tool factory in Manchester, England, is fighting more private battles. In the face of defeat, he abandons his adopted home and moves his family to the one place on earth that he still owns: a decaying thousand-acre estate on the Chesapeake Bay that is known ominously as Mason’s Retreat. Edward, his wife Edith, and their two young sons struggle to adjust to life in this strange and storied place. But with the war drawing closer, England’s hasty rearmament offers Edward a chance to revive the factory, and he returns alone to lead his company. Meanwhile, his wife and sons are left to make their own fortunes. When an unsigned letter informs Edward of where those fortunes have led, he hastens back, an ill-fated move that will have devastating consequences for everyone involved.
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“Stately, absorbing . . . Mr. Tilghman writes [with] authoritative elegance . . .. His book, so rooted in the idea of coming home, makes one realize all over again that here on Earth there is no such place.” – Thomas Mallon, The New York Times Book Review
“Comes close to pure exhilarating perfection . . . . Tilghman gives us richly drawn characters, shimmering detail, and an irresistibly moving theme – all presented in a graceful and powerful style.” – San Francisco Chronicle
“Rich. . . bewitching. . . unforgettably rendered. . . . The pieces in Tilghman’s kaleidoscope [are] sharp, faceted, and gleaming.” Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times
“Beautifully written. . . fully imagined. . . . Few first novels are narrated with the clarity, economy, and masterful assurance Tilghman brings to this remarkably moving and persuasive tale.” – Entertainment Weekly
“Powerful. . . a work of surpassing thematic seriousness and fictive artistry. In all respects, Mason’s Retreat is exemplary. – Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World