For the beautifully complex characters who populate The End of the Day whom or what the truth actually sets free is richly called into question ... With detail and empathy, Clegg is particularly effective at describing the subtleties of relationships. His work is political without being didactic or dogmatic ... he illustrates the elusiveness of the American dream.
... unfolds slowly and, as with Clegg’s first novel, depends upon character studies and histories to tell its story from multiple viewpoints. As usual, Clegg’s prose is simple and graceful, his third-person character portraits precise, but his plotting, with its intricate, keen-minded twists give his writing the cumulative effect of poetic ambiguity and mystery. Clegg’s first novel was a novel of grief; this is a masterly story of an attempt at righting the misunderstandings of the past that is resonant and true to life’s inherent uncertainty ... the plots converge — a technique that Clegg expertly uses in his previous novel and again here. The result is not a tale of grief, but a poignant story about an earnest attempt to correct the misunderstandings of the past by the end of the day ... shifts from character to character without, for the most part, any transition, much like a hard cut between disparate scenes in a movie. Eventually, the novel, as they say, teaches you how to read it, and after a while the shifting viewpoints and multiple time frames begin to make so much sense that you doubt that Clegg could tell the story in any other way. His approach — resolving the present by slowly revealing the past — creates and maintains an atmosphere of mystery and suspense — the ticking bomb.
Rural Connecticut is the backsplash for this thrilling tale of humanity’s sincerest displays of connection ... [Clegg] brings his characters to life in The End of the Day through magnetically insightful storytelling ... His diction mirrors the emotional gravity in each scene, which, combined with raw honesty, is what makes his writing so relatable ... enriching and engrossing ... Love, friendship and the connections that bring us together are the fabric of Clegg’s masterful framework of a novel with impeccable scope and unforgettable characters.
... intricately plotted ... Clegg discloses those consequences, and Dana’s flawed perception, at a measured pace, slipping smoothly from the life of one character to another and from present to past, revealing how entire lives have been marked indelibly by teenage impulses and mistakes. Though Lupita believes at one point that she is 'safe from the truth,' The End of the Day explains with painful clarity why, in some lives, that can never be.
Bill Clegg understands people. That might seem to be a minimum requirement for a novelist but Clegg packs his follow-up to the spellbinding Did You Ever Have a Family with keen, inventively observed insights... All four characters linger on the past, which sometimes gets Clegg into trouble. As he gradually reveals the incident that connects them, he introduces too many subsidiary characters and a complicated non-chronology that requires him to spend a lot of time getting us up to speed. Fortunately, everything comes together for a bittersweet finale in which the characters finally reckon with the fact that the past is not finished with them.
Clegg could probably have stuck with three protagonists, but he adds more ... There are plenty of arresting scenes ... Descriptions are striking and precise. The problem here is the backstory. Clegg doesn’t hold back on boring biographical detail ... Still, the novel succeeds in its aim of observing, quietly, the ways in which the past can derail the present, and how it can be laid to rest. Whatever life has dealt Clegg, it has made him a wise writer.
... complex ... The pleasure here is in getting lost in the details as Clegg leads readers through a narrative maze. Characters’ connections—and separations—morph as the story proceeds, shifting among their various perspectives. Even at their least certain, their lives seemingly happening to them all at once, Clegg’s characters are fully themselves in every moment.
... thoughtful, well-observed ... Readers will wonder about Hap’s connection to the other characters, and where the story is going, though Dana knows the answer, and her revelations will upend everything. As the pieces come together, little is as it seems—on first, or even second, sight. The splendid prose and orchestrated maneuvering will keep readers turning the pages and send them back to the beginning, to read it all over again.
Clegg dives deep into the inner life of each, exploring the ways our traumas shape our lives. His unhurried, lyrical sentences often make connections between the characters' states of mind and the natural world ... This book is sad, but compared to Clegg’s highly acclaimed first novel, Did You Ever Have a Family, it's a Fourth of July picnic, albeit one that ruins a few characters' lives ... A moody, atmospheric domestic drama with a mystery novel somewhere in its family tree.