Thomas Christopher Greene’s new novel, Envious Moon, is without a doubt, his finest yet. The first of his three novels not set in Vermont, it tells the tale of two young lovers in a fishing village on Rhode Island. Seventeen-year-old Anthony Lopes is a fisherman from a long line of fisherman. He and his friend Victor spend their evenings drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, and floating around the shoreline in Anthony’s skiff. One fateful evening, Victor mentions seeing an envelope of money in a mansion where he was assisting with a funeral, and thinking the house empty, the two set off to take it.
This is where things start to go wrong. On his way out of the house with the money, Anthony finds it is not empty. There he sees Hannah, a girl who will become his obsession, and his undoing. Her father tries to stop Anthony, and accidentally falls from the stairwell to his death. Surprisingly, Anthony is only mildly plagued by guilt, thinking more of the girl than her father whose death he had a hand in. This is where I began to question the reliability of the narrator. From there things get sensual and creepy, and I was unable to put the book down, keeping myself up until two or three in the morning, wanting, no, needing to see what happens to the ill-starred lovers.
The novel is written in elegant and atmospheric prose, and as indicated by my late night sessions, an energetic plot. It is deceiving, because though Greene seems to be lingering in his descriptions — of the late summer beach, for instance, with its overturned rowboats and misty dusks — he is actually moving the story forward, like the rising tide, at a swelling pace, ending with the disturbing but not entirely unexpected climax. I was particularly taken with the moodiness of the novel, the gray mist that seemed to infect Anthony’s world. This is a compelling book that takes the tragic Shakespeare story that inspired it and brings it into a modern psychological realm.
Envious Moon is coming out from William Morrow on May 1st, 2007. Visit Tom Christopher Greene's site for news and information about appearances.