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The Evidence Against Her: A Novel


The Evidence Against Her: A Novel

There are those who say it is the big events in life that everyone remembers and then there are those who say life is really made up of small moments. Robb Forman Dew seems to try to prove both true in her book, THE EVIDENCE AGAINST HER, a novel about a family in Washburn, Ohio, and all the things, big and small, that rock and shape their world as they grow old together.

It is rare that a family drama can take on such a misty but not melancholy tone. In fact, it is bright sunny days and warm breezes that waft between the pages in which courtship, marriage, birth, and death affect the Scofield clan. Two brothers and their best friend each receive the gift of a healthy beautiful child on the same day --- one girl, two boys --- and watch them blossom into best friends. In fact, Robert and Lily marry, although she harbors love and admiration for her cousin Warren as well.

Eventually, Warren's heart is captured by Agnes Claytor. As they marry, have children and are forced to be responsible for the care and welfare of a baby left behind by her mother, stricken with an untimely case of influenza that also kills her brother, Agnes and Warren incur the jealousy and wrath of Lily, whose marriage to Robert Butler so long ago infected Warren with similar ill feelings. This Ohio clan moves into the future with a shared mix of enthusiasm and trepidation, as alliances tighten or fall apart and the gleeful games of childhood give way to the messy interminglings of adults in society.

Robb Forman Dew is a novelist with the lightest possible touch. Instead of hacking away at the love triangle between the three main characters, Dew manages to intersperse their continuing saga with the lives of those around them --- their siblings, their parents (especially the hard-to-read John Scofield, an exacting and angered man), and their close friends (Agnes' friend Lucille the most colorful among them). This gives the book a well-roundedness that is rarely found in such an extensive generational saga. Of course, they live in a small town, where the outside world barely touches them (there are mentions of the Wilson administration and such, but they are not given a second coat of paint), but this is no "Peyton Place." Like the song "Dayton, Ohio" by Randy Newman, the smallest virtues are the most blessed and pulling your children across a new blanket of snow is perhaps life's greatest reward.

THE EVIDENCE AGAINST HER is a great book for this time of year, when family squabbles find themselves renewed over turkey carving (there is an unfortunate carving incident in the book as well), but ultimately it asks of the reader only to absorb the lives of these people and see them for who they are --- all-American folks, different from each other but bound to each other with ties of love and trust that transcend all other boundaries.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on September 19, 2001

The Evidence Against Her: A Novel
by Robb Forman Dew

  • Publication Date: September 3, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316095575
  • ISBN-13: 9780316095570