This is not one of Hoffman’s best-regarded books, and while the writing style itself is good (you would expect it to be), the story itself is just weird and unsatisfying.
It’s the story of Theresa’s family, which slowly disintegrates during her teens and early twenties. Her mother, Dina, was very superstitious, and what drives much of the book is a myth or story that Dina tells Theresa about Arias, almost myth-like men who are incapable of settling, and the women who love them and spend their whole lives waiting in vain for them to come back, riding their white horses. Theresa’s brother, Silver, is supposed to be one of them.
But in addition to the myth-based characterization, Hoffman throws in some domestic-violence, incest, a murder, and a series of completely inexplicable decisions by the main characters. Much of it is hard to believe.
This is one of those books where good writing alone isn’t enough to make it work. I’ve read a handful of Hoffman’s books over the years, and this one doesn’t stack up with the rest. Had I known it was originally published in 1982 (and I’d never heard of it before), I would have taken a pass on it. As it is, I look forward to some of her more recent books, but this is one I don’t expect to remember.