In 1858 a birch tree in Norway was cut down and skillfully made into a large table. By 1921 the table had been brought to America and was in the North Dakota prairie home of the Kirkeborgs. Life was already difficult for the large family, but it became worse when a fast moving fire threatened their lives. Prior to the fire, daughter Joann had already found comfort sitting under the table and she took refuge there, once again, when the fire raged. While the family and the table survive, the terror of that day remained with Joann. She eventually has a family of her own and then one day, unexpectedly, the table is brought to her home. The Painted Table, by Suzanne Field, is the haunting tale that follows four generations and the significance of their heirloom table.
The author brings to the reader a complex and emotionally stirring novel. As the story develops, we watch Joann slide into insanity while her husband and daughters struggle to survive in the world she creates. Her oldest daughter, Saffee, also unexpectedly, ends up with the table-something she wanted no part of.
The characters are well developed and their strengths and weaknesses are vividly portrayed. On the surface, because their lives were filled with seemingly insurmountable challenges and complicated relationships, it might appear the family was dysfunctional, but they are more than that. The power of this book comes from what the characters learn from each other and about themselves.
This is a beautifully written book and I recommend reading it.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.