An elegant and haunting novel of love and family, The Tell demands that we reconsider our notions of marriage—duty, compromise, betrayal, and the choice to stand by or leave the ones we love
For Mira and Owen, a young, childless couple living in Providence, marital and financial troubles are simmering just below the surface—until Wilton Deere, a wealthy, over-the-hill actor, moves in next door. With no friends to speak of and an estranged daughter to win back, the desperate Wilton inserts himself into the younger couple’s lives. As stresses at work and home take their toll, Mira disappears secretly to casinos and slot machines, accompanied by Wilton. In time, her escapism turns to full-on addiction, threatening a marital bond that is fraying by the day. Adrift and alone, Owen finds himself with nowhere to turn but to the beautiful and mysterious Anya, Wilton’s daughter, who is testing her ability to trust her father after years apart.
As Owen and Mira’s marriage reaches what can only be the breaking point, Wilton suddenly disappears. The two must come together to find him and confront the new reality of their relationship —complete with sobering lessons learned but perhaps, if they can weather a storm of their own making, none the weaker for it.
The Tell is a book about risks: of marriage, of dependence, of responsibility, of living in the past. Told with equal parts suspense, sympathy, and psychological complexity, it shows us the intimate and shifting ways we reveal ourselves before we act, and what we assume yet don’t know about the people we love.
Hester Kaplan is the author of The Edge of Marriage, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and Kinship Theory, a novel. Her short stories have been included in The Best American Short Stories series. She teaches in Lesley University's MFA Program in Creative Writing and lives in Rhode Island.
“Hester Kaplan is a master of her craft, and in The Tell she uses her prodigious talent to put a marriage under her microscope. Every sentence of this book is breathtaking.” — Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle
“Hester Kaplan brings such fresh language and uncanny insight to whatever her keen eye lands upon, it’s as if she creates it anew. Everything, everyone, every inflection in The Tell is charged with precision, feeling, and consequence.” — Leah Hager Cohen, author of The Grief of Others
“The Tell is an homage to The Great Gatsby: The competing forces of true love and false idols are played out beautifully in the course of a roiling relationship with a larger-than-life neighbor. This is a wonderful book.” — Antonya Nelson, author of Bound
“Gorgeous and haunting, Kaplan’s riveting new novel about what we fight to hide, or ache to reveal about ourselves, grabs you by the throat and builds to a crescendo that’s pure Greek tragedy. It’s hard not to use the word genius.” — Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You
“The Tell is an engrossing novel, at once richly observed and tautly plotted. Wilton Deere is one of the most riveting and unsettling characters I’ve encountered in a long time. I read this hungrily, and with great pleasure.” — Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, author of Ms. Hempel Chronicles
“Kaplan writes with remarkable acuity about the psychological challenges faced by each of her vulnerable characters. . . . Highly recommended for readers who enjoy the psychologically complex work of Annie Proulx, or Stewart O’Nan.” — Booklist
“Kaplan’s characters are impeccably crafted.” — The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“The Tell is filled with fascinating subplots and well-drawn supporting roles. . . . An exceptionally good read.” — The Providence Phoenix
“A wonderfully written, perceptive, and engaging novel. . . . Kaplan has created a story inhabited with impeccable and image-sharpened tremors, so acutely attuned to insights, epiphanies, betrayals and threats that I couldn’t put it down.” — The Providence Journal