Forget what you think you know about relationships. Better yet, forget what you think you know about your friends, your lovers and especially your family. As Sarah Stonich proves in her second novel, when it comes to affairs of the heart, there are no rules. We meet Liselle "Lise" Dupre in the midst of crisis. She has abruptly left her beloved son and estranged husband in Toronto to start anew in a tiny village on Ireland's western coast. Lise's fractured, yet visceral memories reveal an affair with an exotic, brilliant Welsh painter, Charlie, who loved her more passionately than her husband ever could; a married life of utter complacency with her workaholic husband, Stephen; and a tortured relationship with her long-deceased and falsely revered father. In Ireland, with the help of her quirky, yet loving new friends, the Conner family, Lise must come to grips with the mistakes she's made, the decisions ahead of her and the woman she ultimately wants to become. Blurring the lines between art and narrative, Stonich allows Lise's affair with Charlie to come to life through the sensuality of his paintings, just as she skillfully explores the Conner family through Lise's creation of a documentary film about them. There's Remy, the spirited patriarch who marries his true love, no matter what other people think of her; his son, Danny, who never overcomes the heartache of losing his wife; and Siobhan, the rebellious granddaughter who puts love above all else, and learns the consequences. With each story, Lise gains a new perspective on the Conners and finally begins to look inward, turning the camera on herself. With meticulously delicate prose, Stonich tells a multifaceted story of love and loss, the comforts of home and the virtues of travel, and, perhaps more than anything, the complexities of every human relationship. An aesthetic triumph with real heart, The Ice Chorus will leave you feeling warm. Abby Plesser studies English at Vanderbilt University.

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