There are two weddings used as bookends with a year in the protagonist's life in between. Jack Griffin, after 34 years of marriage, is dealing with the question of who he wants to be when he grows up. His life has sort of snuck up on him and he's not sure if he's happy with where he ends up.We get to spend lots of very well written angst-filled days with Jack.
Both of his parents have died within this past year, bringing up all kinds of memories. Let's just say Jack's parents weren't the warmest of parents. They are both academics, who've settled for jobs in the Midwest while they both believe they should be at an East coast Ivy League school. Jack has been given the task of spreading their ashes at a suitable place on the Cape. The parents divorced so two separate resting places are needed.
The title of the book is somewhat ironic as the yearly vacation Jack and his parents spent on the Cape were often less than magical. Every year as his parents crossed over the bridge that brought them to a cape Cod, they would sing "that old Cape Magic" to the tune of "that Old Black Magic." The family clung to the hope that. This year's vacation would be the magical one.
My favorite character by far was Jack's deceased mother, who frequently made snarky comments about whatever was going on in Jack's life. I didn't much care for her when she was alive, but dead she was funny.
Russo did not write a 'feel good ' story here. The characters and story are real. And real isn't always pretty. Jack sums up his current life thusly: Late middle age, he was coming to understand, was a time of life when everything was predictable and yet somehow you failed to see any of it coming.
Three stars because, while I understood the characters, I never really connected with any of them. How things might turn out was not all that urgent or important to me. I wanted to feel more. I need to feel more.