From Publishers Weekly
Gilchrist's marvelous storytelling gifts are abundantly lavished on her new novel, which continues the saga of the Hand family and its intricate network of kinfolk, who can be found scattered through Victory over Japan , Drunk with Love and The Anna Papers . Set in the summer of 1991, Starcarbon focuses on the younger generation of Hands introduced in I Cannot Get You Close Enough . Olivia, Daniel Hand's illegitimate daughter, returns to her Native American family in Tahlequah, Okla., to study Navajo and reunite with Bobby, the boyfriend she left behind when she schemed her way into her father's affluent lifestyle. Her half-sister Jessie is stuck in New Orleans with a new baby and a faltering marriage to the feckless King, the spoiled son of Daniel's distant cousin Crystal. Gilchrist skillfully makes these complicated relationships clear even to those who haven't read her earlier books by delineating sharply individualized characters. She writes with a distinctively Southern toughness about people who are selfish, demanding and often cruel to those closest to them, but who invariably gain the reader's sympathy with their total honesty and fierce need for love. Starcarbon, a ranch in Montana where Bobby worked, symbolizes the characters' longing for "somewhere clean to be," free from the maddening bonds of family. Yet Gilchrist's multi-volume narrative, which grows deeper and richer with each additional book, compellingly shows how those bonds nurture as well as damage; her work offers a tart antidote to the rootlessness of so much American fiction.