The story is told by Stephen, an Anglican priest, who, with his family, returned to Sawgamet in the wilds of Canada where he was raised. He had left there when he was sixteen and the story is told from thirty years later. Stephen's mother was there dying and Stephen was asked to come there to take over the parish and minister to the area.
"There were only the last few weeks of sitting at my mother's side, knowing she was preparing to die, and trying to sort out the truths from the myths. I talked with her and asked her questions when she was awake, held her hand when she was asleep. And yet, no matter how many times my thoughts returned to the winter I was ten, no matter how many questions I asked my mother as she lay dying, no matter how many stories I have heard about my father and grandfather, there are still so many things I will never know."Stephen began recalling his growing up, the loss of his sister and father, and his grandfather's return. The story tells of his grandparents settling the country there and of love that never dies, despite death and years passing. Stephen wanted to pass on the stories that he had heard from his father and his grandfather (and others) of the family and of encounters from the spiritual world.
Stephen's father had never met his own father (Jeannot), who had left Sawgamet shortly after his wife died, but he told the stories about Jeannot to Stephen that had been told to him. When Stephen was ten years old, his father died, and shortly after, Jeannot showed up in Sawgamet. When questioned why Jeannot had returned, Jeannot replied:
"I've come for you grandmother. I've come to raise the dead."The book is the story of Jeannot's life and the impact that the story had on Stephen. The book is about loss and love.
"...but I have come to believe what my mother began to believe soon after my father and Marie went through the ice on the river: memories are another way to raise the dead."I love that line. It speaks volumes and yet, is so simple.
This is a beautiful book.