Life’s randomness sets the tone for Cold Spring Harbor. Taking place on Long Island between 1935 and 1942, it is a tale that zeroes in on the very human flaws and foibles of a group of people whose lives seemingly connect by accident.

Charles and Grace Shepard, and their son Evan, are the first characters we meet, and we learn about how Evan has been a worry to his parents, but now is showing signs of improvement. He meets and marries a girl named Mary Donovan, they have a daughter, Kathleen, and then, inexplicably, they divorce.

During an outing in Queens, Charles and his son Evan’s car breaks down, and when they knock on a door to ask for the use of a telephone, they meet the Drakes. Gloria, her daughter Rachel, and son Phil. There is something overly friendly and a bit annoying about Gloria and how she loves the sound of her own voice.

Then there is her obsession with Charles…fantasizing about them getting together.

How will these rudimentary connections develop into a kind of social network? What will their lives be like, as they seemingly fall into patterns that could best be described as accidental?

A character study, as well as a microcosm of a time and place, this short novel left me feeling morose for how the characters had so little control over their own lives. A story that I will not soon forget, this one earned 4 stars.