The Mill House is a refreshingly well-written tale by a seasoned writer. Though his publicity states that Paul McCusker is a first-time novelist, the author is a familiar name in writing circles and amongst his fans.
When Lainey's grandmother is found near a bombed-out church clutching glass pieces from an old stained-glass window, Lainey is desperate to help. As her grandmother slips deeper into an uncommunicative depression, Lainey's search for answers uncovers a 50-year-old secret involving a prominent man across the Atlantic in the United States. This man's grandson just discovered unopened love letters that may be the key to his grandfather's hardheartedness.
In addition to this being an intriguing story, this is charming literary romp. Only a witty writer could weave in the difference between sheep gambling and gamboling, a publishing company called Carper-Hollings (as opposed to Harper-Collins), and describe American Christianity as, "We've learned how to experience God, read through the prayers of obscure Bible characters, and discovered how to be purposeful and driven." McCusker is the author of novellas Epiphany and The Faded Flower. He has created radio drama masterpieces including Les Miserables, Ben Hur, and Peabody Award winner Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his first-floor office at Focus on the Family with Family Radio Theatre. Indeed, the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre is at the top of the family entertainment list at our busy, eight-member household. So is to the excellent and long-running Adventures in Odyssey of which McCusker has been scriptwriter, director, and is currently Executive Producer.
McCusker is the writer and producer of the Father Gilbert Mysteries Family Radio Theatre drama and the Father Gilbert character appears in The Mill House. Having his own personal connection with England, McCusker brilliantly and lovingly pokes fun at both English and American idiosyncrasies.
Lainey brings her English accent to the States. "I have a hire-car. .. I thought I'd better ring you first. Which meant I had to go back into the counter and hire a phone."
She asks, "Is everything named after George Washington around this place? I had no idea the man was so egocentric."
"I think they used his name after he died."
"Oh. That's all right, I suppose. Though I hope you realize that the English don't behave that way. There was no Bill London after whom London was named. Or Ferdinand Winchester. Or Horatio Liverpool."
McCusker drew on his work experience when he described the hero's crash-and-burn session creating a visual retrospective on his grandfather's life. And there's an appearance by a curiously familiar media editor named Paul Murphy. I don't know that I've seen an author name a character after himself since Jack London wrote Martin Eden (ME).
McCusker's characters have disorders ranging from co-dependence and control freaks, to violent sleepwalking and Dysthymic disorder. He knows how to describe people. "Indiana natives, they'd never seen Fonzie's jacket at the Smithsonian and had promised someone back home – a mother? a friend? that they would get a photo." As a transplanted California native who's lived in Indiana for the past decade, I represent that. "She thinks she's bilingual because she speaks English in two countries." I know her, too.
McCusker brilliantly describes scenes. Lainey visits her uncle Gerard who is dying of lung cancer. A fit of coughing brings the visit to an end. "Lainey left the study with an image of the nurse trying to right her uncle Gerard, the lamp casting a nicotine-stained glow on both of them." I hope to write like that some day.
Someday I hope to visit England. I'll have Typhoo or PG Tips tea. Overall, The Mill House is brilliant--nicely navigated. – PeggySue Wells, Christian Book Previews.com
They found her by the dilapidated country chapel clutching shards of colored glass from the old stained glass windows, desperately clinging to the fragments of a shattered past.
England. Shrouded in the heartache of a fifty-year-old secret, Elaine Arthur suddenly slips into a deep depression and gives up on life. Lainey, her granddaughter, is desperate to save her—and certain that uncovering the secret will bring healing and hope.
America. Nicholas, the grandson of a powerful publishing mogul, discovers a box from his grandfather’s English past—including unopened letters that reveal a love once lost. Nicholas believes those letters may explain his grandfather’s hardheartedness, and the writer may hold the key that could open the door to redemption.
As Lainey and Nicholas search for answers, their paths cross and, together, they move into a deep mystery and discover that love—and forgiveness—can show up in the most unlikely places.
From the pain of the past emerges a tender story of lost love, betrayal, reconciliation, and renewed hope that spans a half-century and thousands of miles.