Elizabeth Brundage has written a book full of unhappiness, despair, and deception. She divulges the details in a drip, drip fashion that builds up the story while capturing the reader’s undivided attention. George Clare is an arrogant, womanizing academic, tenure-seeking want-to-be. He is an only child whose snotty parents have spoiled him rotten. He is a psychopath who believes he is smarter than anyone else. He dates Catherine and soon marries her out of necessity. Catherine is far more talented and smarter than George, but lacks money and confidence. They move to a small town called Chosen so that George can work at the local university. He despises and deceives Catherine at every opportunity, but she cannot leave him because of their three-year-old daughter, Franny.
A concurrent story in the book surrounds the Hale family. The three boys once lived in the house the Clares now live in. Tragedy struck and foreclosure forced the Hale boys to move in with their uncle. Cole, the youngest Hale brother, befriends Catherine and Franny and spends a lot of time around his childhood home watching how George treats Catherine.
At times, Brundidge’s painstaking details are painful to read. The story feels too slow for comfort, but she has created characters that readers will easily hate, as well as feel sorry for their circumstances and flaws. There are many twists and turns in the book, with an ending that could not have been predicted. Overall, All Things Cease to Appear is a satisfying read that will leave the reader mulling over it for many days after they finish the book.
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