Do you know the Reed family?
Cara and Haskell and their adorable little son, Tono, live in a beautiful old Victorian on Jefferson Street, not far from the Woodstock Square. He writes for a major Chicago newspaper. She holds an executive position at a neighborhood bank. Both are deeply involved in the civic life of this all-American town.
And every year on the Fourth of July they celebrate Tono’s birthday with a big party. It’s a day-long event of barbecue, backyard games, cake and presents followed by a picnic supper at Emricson Park and, after dark, the spectacular fireworks show.
Ask people in Woodstock what a happy family looks like, and they might very well point to this one.
Except a peek behind the curtain would reveal that something with this couple is definitely amiss. Haskell worries Cara has become dissatisfied with the marriage—perhaps the trouble is the difference in their ages. She wonders why, lately, he seems so terribly remote. No one who knows them could guess the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other, and as they struggle with their twin deceptions, guilt and fear spoil the happiness that should be theirs.
After Tono’s Party, a story of intimacy and secrecy, and foolish things that are done in the name of friendship, is told in intertwining narratives—one taking place on the occasion of Tono’s fourth birthday, the other over the years leading up to that pivotal day.
What happens after Tono’s party demonstrates how, in the drama of everyday life, comedy and tragedy and farce often travel hand in hand in hand.
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