When Mom and Dad die in a car accident en route to the family’s beloved South Wellfleet vacation home, it’s up to sisters Ann and Poppy (adopted brother Michael has disappeared from the sisters’ lives) to pick up the pieces. But cracks in the family go back to their school days, and the mystery is in exactly what drove the family apart and how exactly it can be put together. Told from alternating perspectives of Ann, Poppy, and Michael, each character gets the grace and understanding they deserve. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, and yet I’m already hearing rumbles of Team Poppy, Michael, or Ann. And for those of you that love a good house story, it’s hard not to fall in love with that home the family is fighting over. But beyond Cape Cod, Clancy’s debut is also a love letter to Milwaukee, and how can I not love that? Truly The Second Home is a top-notch work of smart escapism, an adroitly written, emotional rollercoaster, and perfect for summer or whenever you vacation.— Daniel Goldin
I love house stories. I’m fascinated by how the family dynamics shift in connection to the house site: how a family can have different reactions to a primary and secondary residence, and how social class can impact that perception; how succeeding generations create, disrupt, and restore; how proximity can affect intimacy and vice versa; and how a planner and a non-planner can come to loggerheads over important family decisions. The Second Home, Christina Clancy's heartfelt new novel, raises so many ideas in a book that’s positioned for summer escapism, making it perhaps the perfect book for reading group discussions. How can you not think about when Avery says, ‘I wish we could, like, sew our arms together’ and not think that this is what Edward and Connie wished for their family... as do all parents for their family!— Jane Glaser
A realist fantasy on family, rifts, lies, and peacemaking. Clancy’s surefooted storytelling explores the what’s left moments of revisiting a place after the people who made it a home are gone and the memories have been soured. She’s not afraid of nostalgia, its warmth at its best and its forgetful sheen at its worst. But the real magic trick of her writing is the in-the-moment longings she creates for each character, their desire for the forbidden and lost that you’ll feel tug at your own heart. Like the summer you learned to surf, this novel’s glow will stay with you for a long time to come.— Chris Lee
June 2020 Indie Next List
“While reading The Second Home, you can taste the saltwater of both the ocean and the tears of familial pain. Christina Clancy has written a beautiful story of family and the bonds that can be broken and somehow repaired again. The characters and location are so well-written, you’ll feel like you’ve vacationed on the Cape for years with the Gordon family. Fans of Jane Hamilton and We Were the Mulvaneys will love The Second Home.”
— Nancy Baenen, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, WI
"A novel of family and place and belonging." ––Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist
"Tender and suspenseful." ––Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author
Some places never leave you...
After a disastrous summer spent at her family’s home on Cape Cod when she is seventeen, Ann Gordon is very happy to never visit Wellfleet again. If only she’d stayed in Wisconsin, she might never have met Anthony Shaw, and she would have held onto the future she’d so carefully planned for herself. Instead, Ann ends up harboring a devastating secret that strains her relationship with her parents, sends her sister Poppy to every corner of the world chasing waves (and her next fling), and leaves her adopted brother Michael estranged from the family.
Now, fifteen years later, her parents have died, and Ann and Poppy are left to decide the fate of the beach house that’s been in the Gordon family for generations. For Ann, the once-beloved house is forever tainted with bad memories. And while Poppy loves the old saltbox on Drummer Cove, owning a house means settling, and she’s not sure she’s ready to stay in one place.
Just when the sisters decide to sell, Michael re-enters their lives with a legitimate claim to a third of the estate. He wants the house. But more than that, he wants to set the record straight about what happened that long-ago summer that changed all of their lives forever. As the siblings reunite after years apart, their old secrets and lies, longings and losses, are pulled to the surface. Is the house the one thing that can still bring them together––or will it tear them apart, once and for all?
Told through the shifting perspectives of Ann, Poppy, and Michael, this assured and affecting debut captures the ache of nostalgia for summers past and the powerful draw of the places we return to again and again. It is about second homes, second families, and second chances. Tender and compassionate, incisive and heartbreaking, The Second Home is the story of a family you'll quickly fall in love with, and won't soon forget.
About the Author
CHRISTINA CLANCY is the author of The Second Home. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Sun Magazine and in various literary journals, including Glimmer Train, Pleiades and Hobart. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and lives in Madison, WI with her family.
Praise for The Second Home:
One of Good Morning America's "25 Novels You'll Want to Read this Summer"
"Christina Clancy writes with warmth, wit, and wisdom about fantastically human characters. A novel of family and place and belonging for fans of Ann Packer and J. Courtney Sullivan." —Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Great Believers
"I gobbled The Second Home in a matter of days, fully invested in the history, hurt, and hopes of this very human family. Christina Clancy writes with empathy and rich detail: to read about the Gordons is to smell the pine and oak of Wellfleet, to tread the well-worn rooms of their eccentric summer home, and to learn all sides of the explosive rift that sent them hurtling in different directions. Tender and suspenseful, Clancy's debut explores the nature of home as well as the nature of family itself—given and chosen." —Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists
"A sure-footed ode to the strength of family, the depth of loss, and the power of forgiveness." —J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times best-selling author, Kitchens of the Great Midwest
“The Second Home shows us how families are knit together and how they unravel; how a place—a geography, a house—can act as the repository for our best and most important memories. And that even the most damaged past can be reclaimed, a hard-won wisdom that shines through on every page.” —Jean Thompson, New York Times bestselling author of The Year We Left Home
"Clancy imagines her complicated characters with such empathy and precision that every questionable choice, every mistake, feels like the only option. The Second Home is a big, sprawling, smart, beautiful story about love and betrayal, home and family, and the foundations of forgiveness." —Lauren Fox, author of Days of Awe, Friends Like Us, and Still Life With Husband
"Christina Clancy writes with an arresting vividness and a nuanced understanding of her characters, who are buffeted by a storm of conflicting desires. A poignant but also very entertaining novel—full of startling detail, humor, and above all, an abiding sympathy for its beautifully drawn characters." —Christine Sneed, author of Little Known Facts
"This deeply moving and heartfelt book explores what makes a home - and how homes make us. It's deftly plotted, sensuously told, and incredibly smart about the secrets that pull families apart and the love that knits them back together." —Liam Callanan, author of Paris by the Book.
“Every Wellfleet sand dune, every breeze and beach and pond, came alive for me in this beautiful, heartbreaking debut about a Milwaukee family’s complicated history with their summer home. Christina Clancy’s characters are so real and flawed, so caught between the darkness and the light, that they step right off the page, and you won’t rest until you know what becomes of them.” —Meg Mitchell Moore, author of The Admissions and The Islanders
“From the first pages of The Second Home, it’s abundantly clear that Christina Clancy has an abiding love for outer Cape Cod, which she conjures in all its bluster and beauty. But as this compelling novel progresses, it also becomes obvious that Clancy has a keen awareness of how secrets can tear apart even the closest of families. Drawn in by the exquisitely-rendered setting, I was riveted by this stirring, family drama."—Karen Dukess, author of The Last Book Party
"Warm, absorbing and thought-provoking..." — Shelf Awareness
"A riveting family saga that fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Cristina Alger, and Maria de los Santos will devour, Clancy's debut novel is a delight. With nostalgia as thick as the scent of coconut-scented sunscreen, The Second Home explores the consequences of emotional decisions and the strength needed to set things right."—Booklist (starred review)
"Transporting...Clancy's beach-ready debut is sure to be a favorite with book clubs." — Publisher's Weekly
“Witty and compassionate, this is the page-turning saga, unfolding in several voices, of two sisters, their estranged adopted brother and the dispute that arises 15 years after their parents' death.” — Naples Daily News
“With its fond descriptions of Cape Cod’s land and seascapes and an evocation of a historic house layered with love and secrets, Clancy’s debut clearly has its eye firmly set on the summer-read market.” — Kirkus