Best Book of the Week!
Lily Dahl is a 19-year-old making a living as a waitress in a small-town cafe and living in an apartment above it. Although she is saving for college, what she really wants to be is an actress.
Lately she has been fascinated by Ed Shapiro, an artist living in a room across the street. He is in his thirties, recently deserted by his wife. At night she can’t keep herself from watching as he paints in his underwear.
Lily’s next-door neighbor, an old lady named Mabel, is helping Lily with her part of Hermia in a local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Lily has also made friendly overtures to Martin Petersen, even though he seems very odd, because she remembers they used to play together as children. Martin stares at her and stutters, but he becomes a different person when acting his part of Cobweb in the play.
As Lily gets to know Ed Shapiro, she becomes aware that someone is watching her apartment and has even entered it when she wasn’t home. She suspects Hank, the boyfriend she broke up with when she realized she liked Ed.
Odd things begin to happen around town. Martin has left her some bewildering gifts and told her things that don’t make sense. She has heard rumors of someone seen near the river carrying a body and people seeing something that looks like an angel. Lily begins to fear that someone may have been killed.
This novel is an eerie one, and Lily, although at times naive, makes a strong and daring heroine. Occasionally, the novel seem almost dreamlike as it explores the differences between appearance and reality. You may find it hard to put down the novel, which in its look at the underbelly of a small town in Minnesota, reminded me a bit of the movie Blue Velvet, although the novel is gentler.