First is Ariah's second marriage, to Dirk Burnaby, a well-connected lawyer from a wealthy family, and the birth of their three children (Chandler, Royall, and Juliet).
Ariah confide in [Dirk], "Now we're safe, darling! Even if one is taken from us, we'd have two left. If you leave me" - she laughed her low throaty laugh, mocking her own dread - "I'd have the three of them."Next comes Dirk failed Love Canal case and his murder. Time passes and the children grow up. Chandler, an assistant pilot of a tourist boat, is engaged to be married at nineteen, but after a mysterious Lady in Black seduces him in a graveyard, the married is put off. Chandler, a middle school science teacher, volunteers as a hostage negotiator. Juliet, an introverted high school girl, falls in love with a silent, sullen boy from a family of tough cops.
The talent of Joyce Carol Oates embroiders this patchwork of tales, stitched together from disparate parts, and finally revealed to be a coherent work of art. A beautifully written story of human struggle and hope.