Jessie and Carl have retired to the coast of Maine to paint and enjoy their waning years but the disappearance of their troubled daughter, Sylvie, interrupts their somewhat humdrum lives.
In the midst of the turmoil about Sylvie, a young man named Jonah appears at their door, the apparent victim of a robbery while camping. He wheedles his way into their home and their lives. There’s something odd about him, the way he pours wine for their guests as if he were the host, how he asks questions he shouldn’t.
Jonah’s instability becomes apparent the next morning when he holds Jessie and Carl at gunpoint, forces them to submit to his delirium driven needs. Carl, who has always been the strong one in the marriage, becomes impotent, forced to reveal a horrendous past that he has hidden even from his wife, Jessie, who, for years, has looked to Carl for strength, finds her own power when she is submitted to the ultimate violation. It is Jessie who finally makes decisions and takes actions necessary to save her child.
Jessie, Carl, and Jonah become entangled in a trinity of madness, of tenderness, of violence and death and atonement. It knows how to find the fairy darkness, that edge of madness where Sylvie goes, and knows how to bring her back.
Where is the edge of madness? Are all of us capable of crossing that line? And what of love? Can love withstand everything thrown at it? Can we continue to love a child who spews hatred at us? Can we continue to love our mate who commits the absolute transgression? And what of Sylvie whom we never see in real time but who permeates everyfabric of the lives of Jessie, Carl, and Jonah?
A Brief Lunacy presents the reader with complex issues and possibilities and leaves the reader with both trepidation and hope.