After Great Pain

Francine Prose
HarperCollins, $24.95, 288 pp.

On a placid New England lake, teenage sisters—“two Cleopatras in our royal barge”—go rowing. Margaret, who is seventeen, luxuriates in the sunny spring day, smoking though she already has a “stutter on her heart graph.” Nico, four years younger, questions Margaret about her sex life and frets: because her sister smokes, because of global warming, because she thinks she’s fat. Shrugging off these worries, Margaret dives into the water and swims toward the family’s dock...

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About the Author

Valerie Sayers, chair of the English Department at Notre Dame, is the author of six novels, including The Powers.