They Came Like Swallows

They Came Like Swallows - William Maxwell

This 1937 novel is a short, sad story of a family's arc from bliss to crisis. The book's three parts are told in succession from the vantage points of the Morison family's three males: eight-year-old Bunny, his older brother Robert, and the boys' father James. Each loves Elizabeth Morison for her almost clairvoyant ability to say the right thing, to be always graceful, and to define love for each of them uniquely. And while it may be old fashioned (or antiquate) to enjoy a novel tat places a woman in such a traditional role, it soon becomes clear that Elizabeth is no instrument. They boys eventually look deeper into her marital position as keystone to their family and soon enough recognize how long she has been to them a shared heart and its centering soul.