We Shall Not All Sleep
The entangled pasts of two ruling class New England families come to light over three summer days on an island in Maine in this extraordinary debut novel.1964. The Hillsingers and the Quicks have shared the small Maine island of Seven for generations. Though technically family—Jim Hillsinger and Billy Quick married Park Avenue sisters Lila and Hannah Blackwell—they do not mix. Now, on the anniversary of Hannah’s death, Lila feels grief pulling her toward Billy. Jim, a spy recently ousted from the CIA, decides to carry out the threat Lila explicitly forbid: to banish their youngest son, twelve-year-old Catta, to the neighboring island of Baffin for twenty-four hours in an attempt to make a man out of him.Set during three summer days, Estep Nagy’s debut novel moves among the communities of Seven as longstanding tensions become tactical face-offs where anything is fair game for ammunition. Vividly capturing the rift between the cold warriors of Jim’s generation and the rebellious seekers of Catta’s, We Shall Not All Sleep is a richly told story of American class, family, and manipulation—a compelling portrait of a unique and privileged WASP stronghold on the brink of dissolution.

We Shall Not All Sleep Details

TitleWe Shall Not All Sleep
Author
FormatHardcover
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 3rd, 2017
PublisherBloomsbury USA
ISBN1632868415
ISBN-139781632868411
Number of pages288 pages
Rating
GenreHistorical, Fiction, Adult

We Shall Not All Sleep Review

  • Elyse
    February 21, 2017
    The ocean salt-air smells of Maine are worth remembering.....John was coming to Seven Island from New York after receiving an invitation by Billy Quick, his old friend from Princeton, whom he had not seen for fifteen years when they were trying to repair their damaged friendship. Billy offered John a trip to Seven with the intention of spiritual reconciliation of sorts. After his flight, John met at the boat dock, where the Island manager, Cyrus, would help him board 'Heron'......the Island boat The ocean salt-air smells of Maine are worth remembering.....John was coming to Seven Island from New York after receiving an invitation by Billy Quick, his old friend from Princeton, whom he had not seen for fifteen years when they were trying to repair their damaged friendship. Billy offered John a trip to Seven with the intention of spiritual reconciliation of sorts. After his flight, John met at the boat dock, where the Island manager, Cyrus, would help him board 'Heron'......the Island boat. "The boat moved out of the harbor into the bay, past a color wheel of lobster buoys, past huge cloud formations, ever deeper, it seemed, into the salt air. Soon the island speck divided, clarified, gained contrast: from nowhere, miles of wood extended in two directions. He couldn't see where they ended, and it struck him that Seven Island was much bigger than he imagined". "Two houses, one white and one yellow, sat high up on a grassy hill. Outbuildings and a barn were scattered around, all of them painted electric red that Wilkie had only ever seen in Maine. The Hillsingers had built the first house not long after the Revolution. After the Civil War, the Quicks built the new house. Seven Island was jointly owned by both the Hillsingers and Quicks from the beginning. A farmhouse was expanded - and other quarters were built for farmers and staff. The new house was white - taller and squarer, rather than yellow... grander volumes and modern furniture. The Hill house was a pure product of its time.... elegant facade faced the water. There was also a children's house where all the children stayed from both families. This Island setup with these two families - kids - daily jobs to do - [sheep which needed to be hauled to the neighboring island - Baffin - for grazing their clover fields in preparation for the annual Migration, staff members: cook, caretakers, etc.], ... felt like an intentional community compound. The tensions between the adults felt exactly like I imagined joint families would be like. The way the different children - of different ages played and worked felt the same: community living! Billy Quick, successful financier, married Hannah BlackwellJim Hillsingers, CIA operative, married Hannah's sister, Lila Blackwell. Just one big happy family in the two main houses on Island Seven ---- NOT QUITE. Wilkie was one of those friends - that had a connection with both families - he stayed in regular contact with Lila throughout many years. He liked Jim. He was inseparable friends with Billy at one time, and he knew more about Hannah than most of her family did because of political issues. I thought his character in this story was vital --There was more than one reason he was an invited as a guest for 4 days. We learn early into the story that Hannah died.....yet will learn more about her death later. The one year anniversary of her death is the same weekend as the migration. She was living in New York with Billy.....a young married couple. She was teaching Elementary school.....when trouble began. John Wilkie knocked on their door to speak to Hannah about a letter she received from the Board of Education. His orders came from his father, Peregrine Wilkie. Hannah was in serious trouble for having once been a member of the communist party while she was in college… Not an active member… And no longer a member… Howeveronce a member at 'any' time - no matter how short - made her a forever communist with severe ramifications for she, her husband, extending family members, and her father. Everyone could lose their jobs. This Supreme Court affirmed the "Feinberg Law" ... ( prohibits communists from teaching in public schools), ALREADY GUILTY IN THE EYES OF THE LAW. No trial, no investigation, no debate, it is a public hanging. The part of the story about Hannah made my head swim. There was so much unfairness to the story I wanted to scream. So, what did I do? I visited my friend google -- to see how many other people - FOR REAL - have suffered - been accused wrongly? How many activist have gone FOREVER SOUR?? I learned that the law does set standards for hiring teachers.... but it ignores the possibility that a person might have joined out of ignorance, or social pressure. There is little room for mistake ..... making for an unjust law. Jim Hillsinger was also falsely accused of treason.... There were some heavy crisis going on in the story, including infidelity. I learned a lot about the historical communism accusations. We have many Joyful moments too ... Martha's homemade biscuits- yummy meals - games the kids play -and try to get away with - debate of weather OWLS are on the island....and outside summer adventures. Added pleasure was the children. Don't children just add lightness at the best of times - when we need it most? The most precious scene is with Lila's youngest six-year-old daughter. "Little Isa had asked why they built fairy houses only out of things that were on the ground. The things they used, Isa said, like bark and pinecones, fell apart too quickly; The fairy house they built just yesterday had already collapsed". "Fairies, Lila had said to her daughter, are different from us. They are so pure that they don't see dirt. All they see is a pinecone that had once been part of their friend the pine tree, or bits of soil shaken loose from their friend the earth. Above all things, she said, fairies wanted to be among their friends". "But what do fairies eat?" Isa said for the thousandth time". "Fairies eat the sunlight", Lila said yet again. Isa paused. "What if it rains?" up to that point. Lila felt they were in the domain of ritual, and she was content to answer, as many times as necessary, and that spirit. But this was a new question. "If it rains, Lila said hopefully, "then they eat clouds." "Is that way the sun comes back again?" Lila smiled, but chose not to answer. The logic of fairies, if pursued too far, could end up in a scary place." WONDERFUL DEBUT NOVEL! Thank You Bloomsbury, Netgalley, and Estep Nagy
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  • Marie
    June 3, 2017
    I thought this book was quite brilliant, very literary, and highly intriguing. It takes place over a few days, however, there are flashbacks to earlier times such that the reader gets a much longer and larger view into the lives of the characters.The setting is July 1964 during the era of McCarthyism on Seven Island in northern Maine. Seven is a fictional island home to two very wealthy families whose history is interconnected dating back to the 1700s. In present day, each family owns a beautifu I thought this book was quite brilliant, very literary, and highly intriguing. It takes place over a few days, however, there are flashbacks to earlier times such that the reader gets a much longer and larger view into the lives of the characters.The setting is July 1964 during the era of McCarthyism on Seven Island in northern Maine. Seven is a fictional island home to two very wealthy families whose history is interconnected dating back to the 1700s. In present day, each family owns a beautiful house on the island, one yellow and one white. There is a barn for the animals and outbuildings for the staff, all in bright red. The Hillsingers are in one house and the Quicks are in the other. Interestingly, although their histories are connected and the men of these houses married two sisters, their lives have been very separate until these 3 days spent on the island where past and present collide. There is a huge cast of characters which includes Billy Quick, Jim Hillsinger, their immediate families, their guests, and the staff. Within each chapter past and present are described and the narration jumps from one situation to another. At first I found this confusing and difficult to track, but fairly quickly on, I had figured out who was who and reading this book was like watching a movie unfold. It really had a cinematic quality of switching from one scene to another as in a movie. I can’t compare this quality of the book to another like it, it seemed quite unique. The effect was tantalizing and compelling, making this a very quick read. The storyline builds and compounds as the novel progresses reaching the crescendo point by the end.I won’t say much more as I don’t want to give too much away. I would definitely recommend this book. It would make a great beach read as well as a great book club choice. It contains many historical elements without feeling like it is beating you over the head with them. They simply exist in the book only because they are important to explaining the characters and their situation. There are no wasted words in this novel. It is written succinctly, beautifully and intentionally. However, the reader, needs to pay close attention, or will miss something. In short, well written, well researched and well worth the read!Thank you to net galley and the publisher for and ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.For discussion questions, please see http://www.book-chatter.com/?p=1697.
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  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    April 19, 2017
    This book seems to be two disparate stories with hints of a third, and my main complaint is that they just don't really seem to fit together. I was interested in all of them individually but felt I had the same experience as a reader that I do when I simultaneously read multiple books. One story is that of Russian spies and the witchhunt that went on in the 1950s and 1960s. One of the characters, Hannah, is accused of Communist ties and ends up taking her life. This is known at the beginning but This book seems to be two disparate stories with hints of a third, and my main complaint is that they just don't really seem to fit together. I was interested in all of them individually but felt I had the same experience as a reader that I do when I simultaneously read multiple books. One story is that of Russian spies and the witchhunt that went on in the 1950s and 1960s. One of the characters, Hannah, is accused of Communist ties and ends up taking her life. This is known at the beginning but the why is not discovered until later. Her dangerous job? She's a school teacher! And apparently the Dept of Education removed teachers with known Communist ties. The second story is that of a place, a set of islands off the coast of Maine, with two feuding families. There are not many people living there that don't belong to one or the other, and loyalties are divided. Of course Hannah and Lila are sisters who married men in the two families, so that adds complexity. The story goes between the 1950s and 1960s, so the generations are the same but in one story line there are a bunch of kids involved, and in another, they're not there.Enter story line #3 - one child being deposited on a harsh island for a coming of age experience, against his mother's wishes. That story goes a bizarre direction and felt almost like the author wanted to write a more mysterious story. But the rest of the novel is not that same tone.I recognize this is a first novel, and I feel many of these decisions are a reflection of a lack of experience with a longer form. I would still read another book by the author, because it seems as if he is interested in topics that aren't covered every day in fiction. But I would hope to see them in their own novels or stories rather than all crammed into one.Thanks to the publisher for giving me a review copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Michael X. Palmer
    January 10, 2017
    We Shall Not All Sleep is the story of two tangled, often-competitive families who share Seven Island off the coast of Maine. The setting, 1964 New England, evokes something akin the Kennedy family. These are two families struggling with the burden of expectation that comes from privilege. Those pressures manifest themselves in any number of ways, from infidelity to how you raise your children. Catta Hillsinger, the son of Jim and Lila, is forced to inherit the strains that a life of expectation We Shall Not All Sleep is the story of two tangled, often-competitive families who share Seven Island off the coast of Maine. The setting, 1964 New England, evokes something akin the Kennedy family. These are two families struggling with the burden of expectation that comes from privilege. Those pressures manifest themselves in any number of ways, from infidelity to how you raise your children. Catta Hillsinger, the son of Jim and Lila, is forced to inherit the strains that a life of expectation has put on his parents. Jim lost his CIA job and his purpose in life. Lila lost a sister and her connection to her husband. So Catta is forced to spend a night in the wild of a neighboring island. His test of reliance is meant to prepare him for the life ahead. It’s an extraordinarily well-written book with multi-layered storylines. The characters take on a complexity that can only really exist in the stratified classes of 1964 Maine. And therein lies the arc of the story, privilege brings as many troubles as it does benefits, and family are often complex organisms with histories and passions all their own. I liked the book quite a bit and found myself thinking about it well after I’d finished it. Thanks for the advance copy!
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  • FJain
    January 9, 2017
    I recently read an arc of WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP, and I was blown away. It is the kind of book I am always looking for, but never find: lovely sentences, expertly crafted small moments, excellent interior dialogue, a compelling setting, impressively researched historical details, and a tight dramatic tension throughout the piece. Lately it seems that all books that are recommended to me have gut-wrenching details that compel the recommendation. In this case, my recommendation is based solely on I recently read an arc of WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP, and I was blown away. It is the kind of book I am always looking for, but never find: lovely sentences, expertly crafted small moments, excellent interior dialogue, a compelling setting, impressively researched historical details, and a tight dramatic tension throughout the piece. Lately it seems that all books that are recommended to me have gut-wrenching details that compel the recommendation. In this case, my recommendation is based solely on a fascinating story, good writing and interesting characters. It makes me think that the gut-wrenching details of many of these recent best sellers are a gimmick that will fade into the past while WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP is a long term keeper and a book you will return to year after year. The book touches on CIA mole hunts, communist witch hunts, a long-ago “uptown” 1960s world, and allusions to Lord of the Flies, but it also does a wonderful job about speaking to a woman’s perspective in the 1960s, family dynamics, the perspective of children (both world and family events), and upstairs/downstairs juxtapositions. The women and children are written so well, in fact, that it is surprising to me that the author is a man. I can easily see it adapted to be a movie or a play. What a pleasure!
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  • Bandit
    January 9, 2017
    This novel looked promising, but looks can be deceiving. It's certainly ambitious, but the best way I can describe it is that it concentrated so much on being literary, it forgot to be good. The writing in itself is strong, but the narrative doesn't work. The layers aren't crafted precisely, so it meanders, obfuscates itself, confuses. Some of the 1960s flashbacks are quite good, but the story is all over the place, so much so that it's impossible to connect with it on any meaningful level. Ther This novel looked promising, but looks can be deceiving. It's certainly ambitious, but the best way I can describe it is that it concentrated so much on being literary, it forgot to be good. The writing in itself is strong, but the narrative doesn't work. The layers aren't crafted precisely, so it meanders, obfuscates itself, confuses. Some of the 1960s flashbacks are quite good, but the story is all over the place, so much so that it's impossible to connect with it on any meaningful level. There is a cohesive plot somewhere there about spy intrigue, wealth, McCarthyism and its devastation, but all of this is buried under the aforementioned layers in such a way that overall effect is occasionally moot and consistently muted. No dramatic immediacy, no emotional engagement, just words. Reads quickly, at least, but contrary to its title, won't do much for one's awakeness levels. Thanks Netgalley.
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  • Pamela
    February 13, 2017
    I tried, but I just could not connect to these people or this story. Too many plot lines added I think, to the dissatisfaction of this. I liked moments in the story, but there were not enough of them to make me give this a better review. I do not think I'll be reading any more by this author.**Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.**
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  • Nancy
    February 9, 2017
    In 1965 two families, the Quicks and the Hillsingers, gather on an idyllic Maine island. They are preparing for Migration Day when the sheep are gathered and transported to the rich clover fields of a neighboring island, a time of feasting and celebration.Seven Island and its archipelago of islands have belonged to the families for seven generations; their ancestors had made their fortunes as privateers. The Blackwell sisters Lila and Hannah married into the families: Lila marrying Jim Hilsinger In 1965 two families, the Quicks and the Hillsingers, gather on an idyllic Maine island. They are preparing for Migration Day when the sheep are gathered and transported to the rich clover fields of a neighboring island, a time of feasting and celebration.Seven Island and its archipelago of islands have belonged to the families for seven generations; their ancestors had made their fortunes as privateers. The Blackwell sisters Lila and Hannah married into the families: Lila marrying Jim Hilsinger, a CIA operative, and Hannah marrying successful financier Billy Quick.This year, Jim Hillsinger has invited a man from their past, John Wilkie, to join them.Activist teacher Hannah's idealism led her to the Communist Party until she saw its irrelevance to the problems of her Harlem students. She couldn't escape notice of the government agencies sniffing out Red spies, leading her to commit a desperate act.Lila's husband has been falsely accused of treason and ousted from the CIA after an illustrious career; in Warsaw he had been feared by the KGB as The Black Prince.As the adults struggle with their crisis of family and country, Jim Hilsinger is determined to harden his twelve-year-old son Catta in preparation survival in the vicious Cold War world as he knows it--by stranding the boy alone on an island overnight."Majestic cliffs rose up behind him. Birds called. A flock of sheep tumbled down the hill, and the smell of cut grass and smoke ran alongside the ethereal salt. The sun was hot and the wind cool. He had never, in all his life, been anywhere so beautiful. Someday, he thought, you will have to leave this place." John Wilkie's first sight of the Maine island made me nostalgic. We had camped in Maine for seven or more trips, in love with those woods rising from the ocean, the islands rimmed with granite shores, the lobster boats bobbing from trap to trap in the sunshine. We climbed the mountains and gazed upon the off shore green islands that arose abruptly from the intense blue sea. We sought out the rock-bound tidal pools, the sweep of sand in it's bowl of cliff, and the inland quiet tarn with its beaver and Siberian Iris."Among the rock and penury of Northern Maine, it was a geological freak that there existed here a mile-long white-sand beach in a crescent shape, in a protected harbor facing the open sea."The families make thick pancakes spread with local orange butter, gather around fireplaces in the evening; to Wilkie they are "moments of perfection" that "often come toward the end of something rather than its beginning, that the light of every supernova comes from an explosion."The children's world parallels their parent's. Fairy houses are made and baby lambs are born, there are days wandering the island with homemade biscuits secreted in pockets for lunch. Then there is James who secretly bullies new arrivals and leads the boys in brutal games.Catta is victim of both worlds, abused by his older, jealous brother James, and abandoned, unprepared, by his father on Baffin Island, expected to prove he is 'a man.' It is the end of innocence, a realization that the adult world is corrupt and that children were reared to be warriors "for the slaughter."We Shall Not All Sleep is an intriguing Cold War family drama with elements of a spy thriller and mystery. The complicated and convoluted thread that snares the Quicks, Hilsingers, and Wilkies is slowly unraveled. I was riveted.
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  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    January 30, 2017
    via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com..."While sharing nothing else, lila thought, this man and her husband both spoke from a very hot core of certainty." In We Shall Not All Sleep, there are two houses on the Seven Island- one for the Hillsingers one for the Quicks' and the two are rooted in each other. Despite sharing the island and marrying wealthy sisters, Billy Quick and Jim Hillsinger keep the families apart. It is the anniversary of Hannah's death, surviving sister Lila is fin via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com..."While sharing nothing else, lila thought, this man and her husband both spoke from a very hot core of certainty." In We Shall Not All Sleep, there are two houses on the Seven Island- one for the Hillsingers one for the Quicks' and the two are rooted in each other. Despite sharing the island and marrying wealthy sisters, Billy Quick and Jim Hillsinger keep the families apart. It is the anniversary of Hannah's death, surviving sister Lila is finding herself drawn to Billy, and the children are running wild. "Billy Quick hated mysticism in all it's many forms, but it was nevertheless true that, with Lila, only vanishing images were real." In a sweet conversation about what fairies eat, we come to see this ethereal side of Lila. "But what do fairies eat?" Isa said for the thousandth time. "Fairies eat the sunlight." Lila said yet again. Jim is a spy kicked out of the CIA, the reader is thrown between past and present slowly unraveling what has happened. With Hannah the author is touching on a time in history when suspicions of communism ran rampant. Jim was accused of treason, but must go quietly, though innocent. Hannah is guilty, but why? She is just a teacher. How did this happen? That Hannah had cut ties with the family, working as a teacher in a sort of 'invisible' manner may well have been the nail in her coffin. We find out what happened with Hannah in flashbacks through time. Sometimes it made the reading difficult, just when I was immersed in the present it interrupted the flow. The 'help' is as much a part of the two island, juggling the difficulty of the families emotional distance. Beyond Lila, I was less interested in the adults and more in the children as they were beautiful creations. "Penny Quick asked questions, and she was watching all the time. The alert ones were the most dangerous, and Martha had never seen her before last week." They are each full of character, some cruel, others sweet. The dissension between Lila and Jim are in the banishment of their young son Catta to an island nearby. In this the reader is reminded of a time when sons were 'toughened up' and 'mad a man' by being thrown into situations beyond their age. A time when women didn't have as much control in what their husbands decided for their children. Catta changes after the incident, but his future isn't meant to become like the old generation of men before him. The strain between the families is a thick fog, misunderstanding, animosity, blame, desires... There are moments in this story that worked for me, but times when I got lost with the back and forth. It reads as a literary historical fiction, and the author doesn't need to come out and state why there is tension, it's alive in every conversation, comment, action of the characters. Wealth isn't without a rotten core. I had a hard time connecting with the adults, the children were far more interesting to me. I was expecting more intrigue, or maybe I missed it. I liked it, but I didn't fully follow what was happening and found myself going back to read again which is unusual for me. Publication Date: July 4, 2017Bloomsbury USA
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  • Hafjell
    January 17, 2017
    An astonishing first novel from Nagy. This has all the hallmarks of a classic: controlled, beautiful language; bubbling pacing; and a narrative that pulls the reader from page to page. The climactic scenes were so gripping that I lost the normal reader's emotional distance from the work--I felt like a consumed movie-goer inadvertently shouting warnings to the characters on the screen. A lovely story perfectly told. Bravo.
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  • Jason Pettus
    February 23, 2017
    DECLINED TO REVIEW. Although a slow pace is forgivable in a deliberately dense, delicately stylish character study, especially one with as unique and interesting a premise as Estep Nagy's We Shall Not All Sleep (in which two families have shared a small island in Maine since Revolutionary times, developing a bizarrely dysfunctional, Kennedy-Compound-like insular culture, with our particular story looking at the schism in the mid-1960s between the older generation of gruff military veterans and t DECLINED TO REVIEW. Although a slow pace is forgivable in a deliberately dense, delicately stylish character study, especially one with as unique and interesting a premise as Estep Nagy's We Shall Not All Sleep (in which two families have shared a small island in Maine since Revolutionary times, developing a bizarrely dysfunctional, Kennedy-Compound-like insular culture, with our particular story looking at the schism in the mid-1960s between the older generation of gruff military veterans and their countercultural baby-boomer children), unfortunately this book was just way too slowly paced for me; and when I found it taking me a week to choke my way unwillingly through just the first 50 glacial pages, I decided at that point to just give up on it altogether. This book definitely has an audience that will enjoy it, because it's certainly not a bad story; but if you're not into novels that move at a snail's pace, do yourself a favor and avoid it altogether.
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  • Rhonda Lomazow
    April 17, 2017
    A beautifully written novel.A tale of two entangled families a book that drew me in from the first pages.This is the authors lyrically written first novel an author to follow,
  • Care
    January 4, 2017
    Jim Hillsinger and Billy Quick share Seven Islamd, as their families have for generations and are technically in-laws through their wives. During one summer, the loss of Hannah Quick will draw Lila Hillsinger - her sister - towards Billy; Jim will leave their youngest son Catta on the wild and unsettled Baffin Island for twenty-four hours; and the sadistic James Hillsinger will lead the other children in terrible games, all to the backdrop of the annual Migration which involves transporting all Jim Hillsinger and Billy Quick share Seven Islamd, as their families have for generations and are technically in-laws through their wives. During one summer, the loss of Hannah Quick will draw Lila Hillsinger - her sister - towards Billy; Jim will leave their youngest son Catta on the wild and unsettled Baffin Island for twenty-four hours; and the sadistic James Hillsinger will lead the other children in terrible games, all to the backdrop of the annual Migration which involves transporting all of Seven Island's sheep to North Island for better grazing. The novel itself is undoubtedly well-written and beautiful in its descriptions. The scenes are all painted with complexity and are interesting. However, I had difficulty really sinking into the book because there were so many plot lines going on with no real resolution (or rather confusing conclusions) for them all. The book gives more the sense of trying to paint a portraiture of the interactions of a privileged white family and the decay within it, but it was difficult to truly parse out any meaning of storyline. Because of the many things happening, several of the subplots were unable to be given the full attention and depth they deserved, and I found it difficult to understand where they were coming from and leading to. Beautifully written in pieces, but difficult to take in as a whole. Thanks to the publishers for an advance digital copy in exchange for a fair review!
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  • Alex Kennedy
    March 30, 2017
    I found myself engaging in quite a bit of self-introspection as I read this book and after I finished it - which, for me, is the mark of a good novel. At its core, this book is about identifying and living up to the expectations set for us by society, by our families, and by ourselves - with the attendant relief of meeting those expectations, as well as the costs of falling short of those expectations. Set on a remote island in Maine during the post-McCarthyism height of the Cold War, WE SHALL N I found myself engaging in quite a bit of self-introspection as I read this book and after I finished it - which, for me, is the mark of a good novel. At its core, this book is about identifying and living up to the expectations set for us by society, by our families, and by ourselves - with the attendant relief of meeting those expectations, as well as the costs of falling short of those expectations. Set on a remote island in Maine during the post-McCarthyism height of the Cold War, WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP explores themes of betrayal, sacrifice and redemption. WSNAS is about two Old Money families (the Quicks and the Hillsingers) who don't particularly like each other, but who are also linked by a shared family history, by joint ownership of a remote Maine archipelago, and by marriage through the Blackwell sisters. The family has made its annual Summer-long retreat to Seven Island, a remote place with no phone service and a seemingly never-ending stream of house guests. Each distinct group on the island (the adults, the children, and the staff) forms its own community of interests. And as long as each group fulfills its role within the larger social ecosystem of the island (the adults eat and drink, the staff serve the adults and keep the island running, and the kids are largely seen and not heard) it is left to establish its own rules and traditions free from outside interference. The book flows well, with flashbacks used to give context to the events unfolding in the story. I read the entire book in two sittings, which is unusual for me. I was especially drawn to the vivid descriptions of the natural setting of the remote island chain. The mysterious nearby Baffin Island is a source of fascination for the residents of the island, and for the 12 year old Hillsinger boy in particular. His journey of self-exploration really grabbed me. Reading this book made me want to find my own remote island to explore.
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  • Cindy
    March 13, 2017
    Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.Estep Nagy has a beautiful way with words. There were several passages I highlighted and reread because of their eloquence and vividness. My problem was the structure and story. Shifting between the 1940's and 1960's the story revolves around two society sisters, their husbands and offspring. Sisters, Hannah and Lia share a small island in Maine, where each own a home where the families vacati Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.Estep Nagy has a beautiful way with words. There were several passages I highlighted and reread because of their eloquence and vividness. My problem was the structure and story. Shifting between the 1940's and 1960's the story revolves around two society sisters, their husbands and offspring. Sisters, Hannah and Lia share a small island in Maine, where each own a home where the families vacation, although the sisters are estranged and living in close proximity is uncomfortable. Early on we learn one sister has passed away and told through memories and past recollections we learn the cause of the estrangement and death. The story moves very slowly, the characters are incredibly dry, the constant shifting of time and place was confusing and the dilemma facing the families was lackluster. I found the ending ambiguous without any real action or resolution.I felt zero attachment or sympathy for any of the characters making this just an ok read.
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  • Lauren
    May 30, 2017
    I do have a published review coming and will provide a link but in the meantime, this is the kind of book you read and think - who in publishing owed you a favor because this is really not very good. Maybe an editor could have teased out a novel from this mess and in fact, there is one storyline - the young son who is left on the island alone in a sadistic attempt to 'make a man of him' that is quite moving. But all the cold war nonsense and complex plot about nothing and characters like puppets I do have a published review coming and will provide a link but in the meantime, this is the kind of book you read and think - who in publishing owed you a favor because this is really not very good. Maybe an editor could have teased out a novel from this mess and in fact, there is one storyline - the young son who is left on the island alone in a sadistic attempt to 'make a man of him' that is quite moving. But all the cold war nonsense and complex plot about nothing and characters like puppets being moved around on a stage. No.
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  • Kilian Metcalf
    April 16, 2017
    I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.This book, while written with excellent mastery of language, was so confusing it was impossible to follow the story. The constant interruptions of the narrative to flash back to the McCarthy witch-hunt era, seemed to have no connection to the other story of a young boy deliberately stranded overnight by this father on an island.It was a constant struggle to remember I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.This book, while written with excellent mastery of language, was so confusing it was impossible to follow the story. The constant interruptions of the narrative to flash back to the McCarthy witch-hunt era, seemed to have no connection to the other story of a young boy deliberately stranded overnight by this father on an island.It was a constant struggle to remember the large number of characters and their relationship to each other.I was glad when the book ended.
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  • Michelle Driscoll
    May 27, 2017
    I found this book a struggle to get into, there were just too many plots and characters that I just couldn't keep up. The style of writing was very good, but it was too slow and confusing for me to find it enjoyable.A beautifully written book but just not for me. An average 3 star read.
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    May 21, 2017
    Too much material presented in too close formation. Not a bad book, just not for me.
  • Jamie
    January 28, 2017
    An island off the coast of Maine has been owned for centuries by two blue-blooded American families with a fraught relationship to one another. Over the course of a few days in 1964, the Hillsingers and Quicks battle in an explosion of prideful fathers, the violence of childhood, and the tenuous bonds that hold families together. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Estep Nagy's debut is full of crisply drawn characters while exploring the dangers of human and mother nature.
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  • Vishaka Rajan
    May 3, 2017
    I seem to be facing a rut when it comes to books: nothing I've read has turned out the way I expected. I was really looking forward to this story but it ended up leaving me dissatisfied. While the author put a lot of thought into the various descriptions, and the writing style was quite nice, the story itself failed on a lot of levels. One of the major flaws with this book is that there are too many plot lines. Each one begins at random points and they all interweave to create a confusing mess. I seem to be facing a rut when it comes to books: nothing I've read has turned out the way I expected. I was really looking forward to this story but it ended up leaving me dissatisfied. While the author put a lot of thought into the various descriptions, and the writing style was quite nice, the story itself failed on a lot of levels. One of the major flaws with this book is that there are too many plot lines. Each one begins at random points and they all interweave to create a confusing mess. Everything just began to meld together and make no sense to me; frankly, it was exhausting to get through this novel. the other flaw with this book is that the characters are hard to connect to; there is this distance between the reader and the characters such that it is hard to empathize or understand them. I really like it when authors pull me into the lives of their characters but that didn't happen in this story. As I kept reading, I just had this growing impression that the author was trying to hard to create a meaningful literary fiction. In the end, a simpler story with more complex and well-developed characters would have sufficed. I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Denise
    June 13, 2017
    Thought this book was just ok...would probably actually give it about 2 1/2 stars. I found there to be too many characters and I kept getting confused with who was connected to who.The part about the FBI/CIA interviews during the Red Scare and Cold War were interesting. I never really connected with the plot or understood why any of the characters did what they did. It was a short book, so I stuck it out. Thanks to #netgalley for the ARC.
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