from Chapter One

“I think I am not like many other children—I only wish this were a good thing.”[1]

Alice was born into a family which had already suffered loss. Three months before she was born, her older brother Joshua, almost two years old at the time, drowned in a pond on the property of a family friend. Her mother Deidre was naturally so distraught that there was concern about the welfare of the baby, and she was taken into Putnam General Hospital to recuperate. Alice’s father Henry was able to bring Deidre home after a month, and Alice was born safe and sound. She had, according to her mother, “blueish eyes” and “blondish hair.” Her family thought she was lovely, and she was healthy and responsive.

Although Deidre confesses that the death of Joshua more than devastated her husband and herself, they were determined that Alice not be put under any pressure to replace the child they had lost. Because Alice was already on the way (though her gender and name were not yet known to them), they felt that she was by then an individual member of the family. They never hid their memories of Joshua from their children (Amelia and Abigail were to follow in the next few years), and it appears that all three of the daughters dealt fairly well with the death of the sibling they never knew. Alice’s early journals mention him a few times but primarily in reference to the anniversary of his death, which the family always marked but not in an overly gloomy way.[2] At one point in her teens, she wrote that she liked a boy named Joshua at school and wondered if that was “weird” but he apparently turned out to be a “jerk of the highest degree,” and she did not contemplate any incestuous complications again.


[1] Chapter titles come from comments Alice made in her diaries.

[2] At age 12, Alice wrote “Today we all went out on a walk to the lake in the middle of the town to think about Joshua. It’s weird that he drowned. Even though he was older than me, he’ll always be small in his pictures. He will always seem like a baby to me. That’s weird.”


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