quartet for the end of time book coverReviewed by Meg Massey

Sutton Kelly is the daughter of a powerful judge. Her story begins during the Bonus Army riots of the 1930s, when she is forced to make a decision that will haunt her and the lives of those around her for years to come. Among those affected are Arthur Sinclair, a World War I veteran who disappears, his son Douglas, and her brother Alden.

Johanna Skibsrud’s Quartet for the End of Time tells the story of these individuals, and those they encounter, from the time leading up to the riots up through the turmoil and change of World War II. Readers will travel with Douglas and his father from Kansas to Washington DC, they’ll go with Sutton as she becomes a journalist and break codes with Alden.

While the subject matter of this book was fascinating, it was rather difficult to read. Devoid of quotations marks and filled with long phrases, I often struggled to make sense of what was happening, and had to re-read passages. The content was also complicated by numerous secondary characters that were connected to the stories of the main characters

After finishing this novel, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. While I was interested in the time period and how one decision affected the lives of the individuals in this story, I simply could not get into the disjointed prose. I also struggled to relate to some of the characters, along with the individuals they encountered on their respective journeys. I will say that this author’s vision and the scope of this novel are rather ambitious; I am just unsure if I was able to understand all that she was trying to communicate within the pages of this novel.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Meg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan. Library professional by day, freelance writer by night, Meg writes about life, entertainment and everything in between.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by W. W. Norton & Company. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.