The Rope Walk (Hardcover)
The Rope Walk brings us the dazzling story of a pivotal summer in the life of Alice, a redheaded tomboy and motherless girl who is beloved and protected by her five older brothers and her widower father, a professor of Shakespeare. On Memorial Day, at her tenth birthday party in the garden of her Vermont village home, Alice meets two people unlike any she’s known before. Theo is a mixed-race New York City kid visiting his white grandparents for the summer. Kenneth is a cosmopolitan artist with AIDS who has come home to convalesce with his middle-aged sister. Alice and Theo form an instant bond and, almost as quickly, find themselves drawn into the orbit of the magisterial Kenneth. When the children begin a daily routine of reading aloud to the artist, who is losing his eyesight, they discover the journals of Lewis and Clark and decide to embark on their own wilderness adventure: they plan and secretly build a “rope walk” through the woods for Kenneth and in the process learn the first of many hard truths about the way adults see the world, no matter that they are often wrong.
The great gift of The Rope Walk is its exquisitely poised writing. Alice’s narrative is a profound experience of innocence, of perception balanced between childhood and adulthood. The flying spark of new friendship, the first intimation of adult love, the consolation of devotion, which allow Alice and Theo to shed light in the midst of darkness and to find joy in mutual understanding: these glistening threads are drawn together in a timeless story–profound, seductive, wise, and moving, from first to last.
“Beautifully written. . . . Captures the dignity and grace of a young woman coming into knowledge of herself and the world.”
“Gentle, lyrical. . . . Brown captures Alice's visceral response to the physical world.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“Reading this novel is a serious pleasure.”
—New Orleans Times-Picayune