A thoughtful exploration of the demographic and economic shifts that have been taking place in towns up and down the Maine coast in recent years. It’s a story of struggles—the struggle to make ends meet, the struggle to find fulfillment, the struggle of married life and motherhood—marked by occasional small moments of personal victory. All of it refracted through the prism of one woman’s perspective ... She sets up shop in her protagonist’s head, giving the reader a first-hand look at the inner strife that comes with experiencing changes that are largely unwelcome and more than a little frightening ... a thoughtful and unflinching deconstruction of the relatively small world in which one woman lives, digging into what it means to love and to be loved. In this book, love is rewarding, yes, but it is also hard, with the ties that bind us constantly evolving due to circumstances both internal and external. Sometimes, we are hurt by the ones we love and are left to reckon with that hurt as best we can. And yet we love them still ... It is all brought to the fore by Conley’s lean, deft prose.
Deterioration marks every aspect of Landslide, which is enveloping and warm, if slightly undercooked and sometimes flat-footed ... Conley’s writing can be uneven, but there’s a lot of heart in it—a compliment that sounds treacly but is meant earnestly. She has a gift for writing tiny, meaningful interactions ... Conley isn’t afraid to inject a little hope that these creatures will find their way back home.
... the tensions she describes in the lives of longtime Mainers on the verge of change certainly seemed to resonate with my novice observations ... Landslide offers no real solutions—either for these larger systemic issues or for the Archer family’s woes—but Conley does offer a fond and thoughtful exploration of the questions, and a loving portrait of a flawed family trying their best to muddle through, both individually and together.