A novel about love, mystery and bowling

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Bowlaway opens with the discovery of a woman's body in the local cemetery. Not too unusual, you might think, but this one is "aboveground and alive." In the bag beside her, there are an abandoned corset, a small bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold. This is Bertha Truitt's entrance into the lives of the people of Salford, Massachusetts, at the beginning of the twentieth century. But who is Bertha Truitt and where is she from?

The first two people on the scene are Joe Wear, the cemetery watchman, and Leviticus Sprague, a doctor from Canada. Joe, a ten-pin bowling aficianado, is intrigued by the candlepin and ball. Bertha recognizes the gleam in his eye and, once recovered, hires him to manage the candlepin alley she opens. She scandalizes the town by marrying the Canadian doctor.

Truitt's Alleys quickly becomes the social center of the town. Every month, Bertha opens the Truitt's for a day-long fete with activities for children in the morning and a full-blown party in the evening. Truitt's is where people meet: their friends, their workmates, and their future partners and spouses.

On a visit to Boston in 1919, Bertha is killed in an accident. The people of Truitt's mourn her passing. Then Leviticus dies in a strange fire. A mysterious man from Maine arrives, claiming to be Bertha's son, Nahum Truitt. He has plans for Truitt's Alleys, and some feathers are going to get ruffled.

Bowlaway is a quirky novel about three generations of a family whose lives revolve around the sport of candlepin bowling. The characters are rich and colorful and beautifully realized. McCracken's writing sparkles. Her humor is infectious. This is a delightful novel.

Elizabeth McCracken's earlier book, "The Giant's House" (1996), was a finalist for the National Book Awards. Her collection, "Thunderstruck & Other Stories," won the 2014 Story Prize. McCracken holds the James Michener Chair for Fiction at the Austin campus of the University of Texas.

Phil Lewis is co-owner of The Bennington Bookshop. "Bowlaway" is available at The Bennington Bookshop, or can be purchased online here: https://www.benningtonbookshop.com/book/9780062862853



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