Mason's Retreat A Novel

Christopher Tilghman




Trade Paperback

304 Pages



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Unfolding with grandeur and suspenseful inevitability, Mason's Retreat tells the story of a family on the shore of Maryland on the eve of World War II. After many years of extravagant expatriate living in England, Edith and Edward Mason and their two sons sail back to America to take up residence at the Retreat, a crumbling family estate on the Chesapeake Bay. Although Edward fails as a gentleman farmer, his wife and sons-unnoticed by him-begin to flourish in America, making unbreakable alliances with both land and people. Yet with the coming war, the family's drift toward destruction inexorably quickens, exposing the corrosive effect of silence on love.


Praise for Mason's Retreat

"Stately, absorbing . . . Mr. Tilghman's book, so rooted in the idea of coming home, makes one realize all over again that here on Earth there is no such place."—Thomas Mallon, The New York Times Book Review

"Rich . . .Unforgettably rendered . . . The pieces in Tilghman's kaleidoscope . . . are sharp, faceted, and gleaming . . . Scene after scene has a magical rightness."—Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times/Newsday

"Comes close to pure, exhilarating perfection . . . Tilghman gives us richly drawn characters, shimmering detail, and an irresistibly moving theme—all presented in a graceful and powerful style."—San Francisco Chronicle

"Beautifully written . . . Fully imagined . . . Few first novels are narrated with the clarity, economy, and masterful assurance Tilghman brings to this remarkably moving and persuasive tale."—Entertainment Weekly

"Rich with character and sweet with the scent of a Maryland farm in America's mid-century summer . . . The moral center of this novel is larger than all its sorrows, which have about them the inevitable arc of a star falling from a darkening sky."—Gail Caldwell, The Boston Sunday Globe

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Harry Mason can picture his grandfather, Edward, on the sundeck of the Normandie, early morning, August, a pebbly North Atlantic mist. He is wearing a suit made of yards of heathery Irish tweed, and the fronts of his double-breasted Bur- berry, flapping slightly, are big as sails. He has paused on the silvered teak decking for a second or two and is looking toward the horizon. His large palms have gripped the cold steel of the life rail, greasy with sea dew. The waves are silver-flecked, broad- troughed; the swell is deep enough to turn walking into a slight climb-and-run, and the stewards and
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  • Christopher Tilghman

  • Christopher Tilghman's stories, collected in In a Father's Place (Picador), have appeared in The New Yorker and many other publications, and several have been selected for The Best American Short Stories anthology. He lives in Massachusetts with his family.