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May 26, 2014

Family secrets at heart of Marblehead novelist's latest book

MARBLEHEAD — Julia Glass novels are family affairs.

“I always write about family,” Glass said. “Family conflicts and relationships and secrets are always the driving force behind my fiction.”

That is certainly true of the Marblehead author’s fifth novel, “And the Dark Sacred Night,” which was published last month.

The story begins when Kit Noonan, an art historian who can’t find a job, goes in search of his biological father. He hopes that settling this matter will bring his life into focus and, in the process, relieve stress in his marriage.

But Kit’s decision means defying his mother, who has always refused to divulge his father’s identity.

“He’s torn between wanting to know and wanting to respect his mother’s privacy,” Glass said.

Kit’s quest begins with his ski-bum stepfather in Vermont, who connects him with members of his real father’s family. Each of these characters are developed fully, and the reader starts to see Kit’s situation from several perspectives, which adds surprise and depth to the story.

“I’m a great believer in examining where you come from to understand where you are and where you’re going psychologically,” Glass said. “While this novel was gestating, a number of my friends were either going through family secrets or searching for birth parents. I know several adopted people who were involved in that.

“It helped strengthen my resolve that this was the story I wanted to write.”

Glass took her own journey as a writer, which paralleled Kit’s search for his father, as she revisited characters from her earlier novels and included them in her new book, including Lucinda Burns, who was the mother of a character in Glass’ first novel, “Three Junes,” which won the National Book Award for 2002.

“She was a secondary character in ‘Three Junes,’” Glass said. “She was very difficult for me to create.”

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