Rachel Kemper Kelsey was fourth on her parents’ emergency contact list so an evening phone call from their physician signals a major event.
Her mother Katherine, who rigidly controls family communications, usually avoids contact with her older daughter. As the family crisis deepen, Katherine is declared a vulnerable adult and removed from the home. Rachel’s father, Art, increasingly leans on Rachel to make the transition work. But Rachel’s brother and sister, two alcoholic narcissists, fight to bring their mother home.
Rachel, a psychologist and author of self-help books for families, has the respect of her father and the medical community, but is resented by her mother and siblings. As Katherine slowly slides into dementia and failing health, Art renews his relationship with the daughter his tyrannical wife had banished from their home years ago, causing a family rift with tragic consequences.
With characters as rich as those in stories by Anita Shreve, Pat Conroy or Sue Miller, The High Cost of Flowers is an American story as classic as suburbs, working parents, and multi-generational confrontation. The characters are people who readers will recognize in their neighborhoods, their kids’ schools and their own families. The hardest part of living is watching Katherine die.