On a Philip Larkin jag, I think of his lines as I’ve driving with my 19-year-old up the switchbacks climbing the mountainside from the Connecticut River to Danville.
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
We’ve been to see an old man — a doctor and a Zen Buddhist — whom I’ve convinced has answers, actual answers damn it, to the riddle of her and me and her father. My daughter hates the old man. Actually hates him.
It’s December and cold as hell. The sun sparks from ice at the edges of the river where the wide current is just beginning to freeze. The sun is nothing but cold comfort, so low in the sky warmth is merely a memory.
Driving, talking, we pass a particular bend in Route 2 where, decades ago and years before she was born, the Volkswagen bus my daughter’s father was driving broke down on the edge of the road. He had downshifted, stalled, and in that moment, the engine froze and refused to start. For years, the bus was parked behind his sister’s village house.
I stop in Danville for gas and wash the salt and road dust from the windshield, remembering the ugly tan color of that Volkswagen. From here, the road home is familiar all the way. I’m always writing about roads, always writing about journeys, sometimes just down to the post office to open the mailbox to see what’s there — or not.
Staring at the keys in my mitten, I remind myself my daughter’s journey is her own. Or, back off. Then I hold out my hand to her and ask, You want to drive home?
“With vivid and richly textured prose, Brett Ann Stanciu offers unsparing portraits of northern New England life well beyond sight of the ski lodges and postcard views. The work the land demands, the blood ties of family to the land, and to each other, the profound solitude that such hard-bitten lives thrusts upon the people, are here in true measure. A moving and evocative tale that will stay with you, Hidden View also provides one of the most compelling and honest rural woman’s viewpoint to come along in years. A novel of singular accomplishment.” – Jeffrey Lent
“Early in the book, I was swept by a certainty of truths in Hidden View: that Stanciu knew the bizarre and fragile construction that people’s self-deceptions can frame. And that she was telling, out in public, against all the rules, the heartbreaking story of far too many women I’ve known, at one time or another, who struggled to make their dreams come to reality in situations…. …(In Hidden View) the questions of loyalty to person, commitment to dreams, and betrayal of the helpless are as vivid as the flames in the sugarhouse, as sweet and dangerous as the hot boiling maple sap on its way to becoming valuable syrup. There’s so much truth in this book that at some point, it stops being “fiction” and stands instead as a portrait, layered, complex, and wise. The Vermont that we love, the farms that we treasure, the children we nurture are fully present.” – Kingdom Books, Beth Kanell
“Stanciu is a Vermonter’s writer. Anyone who loves the landscape and language of Vermont will be drawn into this story, but her writing holds a universal appeal, too, and rings true with the language and landscape of the human heart and mind as well. The characters in Hidden View are people you’re going to think about, and care about, long after the book is read.” – Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, AS LONG AS THERE ARE MOUNTAINS
"Brett Stanciu writes with enviable poise and precision. Hidden View is a story that burrows deep and stays put. This is a powerful novel."
– Ben Hewitt, THE TOWN THAT FOOD SAVED and
"(Stanciu") combines her academic life with her agricultural life to write an enduring story… as rugged as the earth it is based on."
– Steve Pappas, The Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus, Vermont Sunday Magazine
"Stanciu is Vermont through and through. The same can be said of her first novel...”
– Seven Days
"Hidden View is pure authenticity. Every word rings true to this place and its people; I know; I've lived here for 45 years."
– David Budbill, JUDEVINE
“Brett Ann Stanciu can write.”
– The Barton Chronicle