I just finished the book 2 days ago. I read it all in the span of about 24 hours. The book is about a patriarch and his family of women. The characters were all very troubled. It was sometimes very difficult to read through the dialogue between the two sisters Frances and Lily. The book unfolds like a rose bud. Very tight in the beginning then it all starts to loosen up and you see the core of it all. I started going back to re-read the beginning because there were clues of the unfolding right from the start of the book. But it's not a book that holds a reader the second time around. I found that Frances was the most disturbing character. The reader doesn't really get a solid picture of James' character (the patriarch), only subtle clues. Frances' character was the most compelling.