Kris D’Agostino’s new novel, The Antiques, is familiar in the best of ways. As a hurricane threatens upstate New York, the estranged Westfall siblings experience their own personal storms as they are forced to congregate at the family home to mark the passing of their father. While they deal with the physical damage of the hurricane, the family tries to find common ground and work together to carry out their father’s dying wishes.
Despite a peaceful childhood spent in the family antique shop, the three Westfall children aren’t exactly succeeding at life. Armie makes beautiful furniture, but his skill hasn’t helped him move out of his parents’ basement. Josef, a sex-addicted tech-guru who lives in New York, struggles to connect with his daughters, while Charlie juggles her job as a publicist to an impossible starlet, her peculiar son and her husband’s infidelity. The Westfalls are flawed, selfish and rather absurd, but it does not detract from how realistically likable they are.
D’Agostino first demonstrated his talent for delightful family based fiction in his debut, The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac. In The Antiques, D’Agostino has once again succeeded in creating a vivid portrait of the modern family and giving readers insight into a unit that is both comfortingly familiar and exceedingly awkward. Their foibles and quirks—from braving a hurricane for a hookup to having a son that’s been kicked out of preschool—provide hilarious fodder in the midst of family tragedy. Yet, even through the absurdity D’Agostino still delivers an insightful rumination on the nature of family. Although the catalyst for the novel is a death, The Antiques is far from melancholy, instead throwing readers into the surreal and sometimes farcical aftermath that so often follows such family events.
Although the formula may be familiar, The Antiques still feels fresh. Readers who enjoyed Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s The Nest and Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You may find a new favorite in D’Agostino.