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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of While I Was Gone and The Senator’s Wife, a superb new novel about a family and a community tested when an arsonist begins setting fire to the homes of the summer people in a small New England town.

Troubled by the feeling that she belongs nowhere after working in East Africa for 15 years, Frankie Rowley has come home - home to the small New Hampshire town of Pomeroy and the farmhouse where her family has always summered. On her first night back, a house up the road burns to the ground. Is it an accident, or arson? Over the weeks that follow, as Frankie comes to recognize her father’s slow failing and her mother’s desperation, another house burns, and then another, always the homes of summer people. These frightening events, and the deep social fault lines that open in the town as a result, are observed and reported on by Bud Jacobs, a former political journalist, who has bought the local paper and moved to Pomeroy in an attempt to find a kind of home himself. As this compelling book unfolds, as Bud and Frankie begin an unexpected, passionate affair, arson upends a trusting small community where people have never before bothered to lock their doors; and Frankie and Bud bring wholly different perspectives to the questions of who truly owns the land, who belongs in the town, and how, or even whether, newcomers can make a real home there.

©2014 Sue Miller (P)2014 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • anita
  • WAYNE, NJ, United States
  • 08-03-14

keeps you listening!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Arsonist to be better than the print version?

I don't know, I didn't read it, I listened.

What did you like best about this story?

It was interesting on many levels, with several different stories going on.
The ending was interesting and not quite what I thought would happen.

Have you listened to any of Sue Miller’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

That is not possible, but it kept me lidtening.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Jorge
  • Loganville, Ga. United States
  • 08-02-14

Boring

What disappointed you about The Arsonist?

Although I like her descriptive writing there was no plot in the book worth following. The Arsonist, the lover and the family issues were all boring and, for the most part, ended unceramoniously.

Would you ever listen to anything by Sue Miller again?

Possible, if there was a story worth following.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Arsonist?

I would have added more excitement about pursuing the arsonist and made the love story or her families life more emotional. It's like her parents were more her second cousins than her Mother and Father.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful! And not (thank heaven) a "crime" novel

What did you love best about The Arsonist?

Not able to figure out the ending, until I got there. That's because the people in the book are complex and realistic. The arsons challenge and divide them. And throughout, they have also to deal with and adapt to the regular stuff that happens to people and families at various stages of their lives.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Sylvia, the main character's mother. She struggles with what others need or expect from her, and what she needs. She balances, adapts, makes mistakes, takes chances.

Who was the most memorable character of The Arsonist and why?

Alfie, the main character's father, who has dementia. His disease progresses in spite of all that's swirling around everyone due to the arsons, relationship issues, romance, moving, age, opportunities, etc. But he copes with things too, and it is uncertain what exactly he understands and what he doesn't. This makes the things the people around him say and do, affect him in a different way than everyone else.

Any additional comments?

People all behaving the way they do because of what's happened to them in the past, affected by what's happening to them in the present and what may, or may not happen to them in the future. Loved it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

So boring It didn’t even really ever peak or ever come to any conclusion. Would not recommend

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

A book about nothing.

This book was terrible. It went nowhere. If i had been reading a hard copy I would have put it down. I kept waiting for something to happen. It never did.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent book

The story keeps you interested in the lives of the subjects to the point that you don't really care about who set the fires.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Rich in character; weak in plot

What did you like best about The Arsonist? What did you like least?

Sue Miller is very skilled at drawing characters so you know them intimately. She's also excellent at physical description. But if you need a strong plotline you will be disappointed with this book. I also found the ending a bit frustrating.

Would you be willing to try another book from Sue Miller? Why or why not?

Only if I was in the mood for a very intense character driven novel

Have you listened to any of Sue Miller’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is my first Sue Miller performance but I think she did a good job in making all the characters sound different.