On the night of a massive hurricane, three estranged siblings learn that their father is dying. For the first time in years, they convene at their childhood home in Upstate New York, where the storm has downed power lines, flooded houses, and destroyed the family’s antique store.
The Westfalls are no strangers to dysfunction. But never have their lives felt so out of control. Armie is living in their parents’ basement. In Manhattan, Josef, a sex-addicted techie, is struggling to repair his broken relationship with his daughters. Their sister, Charlie, who works in Hollywood as a publicist for a wayward young actress, just learned that her son has been expelled from preschool. Amid the storm, they come together to plan their father’s memorial service, only to learn his dying wish—they must sell his priceless Magritte painting. As their failures are laid bare, they discover that hope often lurks in the darkest of places. And so, too, can hilarity.
Complete with an irresistible plot and deeply flawed, affectionately rendered characters, Kris D’Agostino’s breakout novel charts the unexpected epiphanies that emerge in chaos. A rollicking tableau of life in all its messy complexity, The Antiques is a heartbreaking, nimble, laugh-out-loud funny send-up of modern family life.
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Book Cover Image (jpg): The Antiques
Author Photo (jpg): Kris D'Agostino
Photograph by Shawn Brackbill(0.1 MB)
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Reading Group Guide
Kris D’Agostino’s The Antiques is an emotionally reverberant portrait of an American family in chaos. On the eve of a massive super storm, George Westfall lays dying. His three adult children have drifted apart, and his wife is fighting to protect the family’s struggling antiques business. The novel tracks a week in the lives of the Westfall children as they return to the family home after their father’s death. Josef, a sex-addicted tech executive is struggling to make amends with his ex-wife. Charlie, his sister, is living in LA and working for a conceited Hollywood starlet. Their youngest brother, Armie, is living in the family’s basement, haunted by the ghosts of his past. As the family comes together to mourn the loss of their father and sell off his heirloom Magritte painting, they experience the unexpected epiphanies that can emerge in grief and reconnect with the core values that shaped them.
Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. What is the significance of setting the story on the eve of a hurricane? How does D’Agostino use nature to reflect the Westfalls’ emotional topography?
2. What do see more