Stone Creek: A Novel

Stone Creek: A Novel

by Victoria Lustbader


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In the small town of Stone Creek, a random encounter offers two lonely people a chance at happiness.

Danny, a young widower, still grieves for his late wife, but for the sake of his five-year-old son, Caleb, he knows he must move on. Alone in her summer house, Lily has left her workaholic husband, Paul, to his long hours and late nights back in the city. In Stone Creek, she can yearn in solitude for the treasure she's been denied: a child.

What occurs when Lily and Danny meet is immediate and undeniable—despite Lily being ten years older and married. But ultimately it is little Caleb's sadness and need that will tip the scales, upsetting a precarious balance between joy and despair, between what cannot happen . . . and what must.

An unforgettable novel of tremendous emotional heft, Stone Creek brilliantly illuminates how the powers of love and loss transform the human heart.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061369216
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/27/2008
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

A former book editor, Victoria Lustbader became an author herself with her first novel, Hidden. She divides her time between Southampton, New York, and New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Stone Creek
A Novel

Chapter One

In a house in the woods on the outskirts of a small town seventy miles northwest of New York City, Danny Malloy wakes with the dawn. There was a time when he woke gently, rising through the layers of his own soft darkness until his consciousness emerged, whole and round and perched on the radiant horizon of his day. Now he wakes rudely, abruptly, in a recurring state of shock, tangled in his bedcovers. There was a time when he slept without moving, her hand always somewhere on him, stilling any urge to restlessness or disquiet. Now disquiet takes possession of him in those dark hours. There is too much space in his bed and he thrashes in his sleep, blindly seeking what is missing.

It is the end of June and dawn comes early. In the deep shade along the north wall of the house, purple lilacs still bloom. Their sweet perfume floats in the air. The birds are busy, singing and darting to and fro. Bluebirds, orioles, cardinals, finches, jays, nuthatches, thrushes, wrens, catbirds, mockingbirds, hummingbirds. They take turns making hungry strikes at the feeders Danny has spaced throughout the clearing between the back of the house and the woods. Bumblebees drone through the flowerbeds, nuzzling into the kaleidoscope of color, coating their little legs and proboscises with sticky pollen. From beyond the edge of the woods comes the sound of the creek. Its clear water rushes over hindering formations of stone and shale. In most years the creek is shallow and serene along the stretch that flows behind Danny's house, but this year it is swollen almost beyond its wide and curving banks from the melt of a winter now famous forits endless snow storms and an early spring full of rain.

Danny frees his limbs and pushes the sheets off him. His eyes linger on the willowy shadows above his head as pale gold light crawls over his face. He turns his head and looks across the empty expanse of bed until his eyes come to rest on her night table. They flutter shut and he turns his head in the other direction. But that is no better, maybe worse, because when he opens them again he is looking into the bathroom doorway. He sits up, puts his feet on the warm wood floor, his hands by his sides on the mattress. The night table is at his back now. A simple cherrywood table with a single drawer. Soon he will have to open that drawer and deal with what's in it; his long reprieve is nearly over. He made a promise and he will keep it, as he keeps all his promises.

He found the book, nearly a year ago, in a box secreted at the back of her closet. It was a lidded box of burled maple wood that he'd made for her twenty-third birthday. There was only the one thing in it: a medium-sized book with sheets of thick, handmade paper. His name stenciled on the embossed ruby-colored leather cover in bold strokes of indelible silver ink. Her cherished Dupont pen secure in a leather loop at its edge. He had never seen it before. He knew he shouldn't open it, shouldn't look at what was written on the vellum pages. It was far too soon and his pain was too great. He knew there was a chance that whatever was left unshattered inside him would not be enough to hold him together. But at that time he didn't want to be held together. He wanted to dissolve, to vanish into the black cave of his pain. And so he opened it, and he read.

I was ten years old the first time I saw Danny Malloy. He was eighteen. It was toward the end of that year when I was friends with Linda Tompkins. She and I met at Miss Ruth's Dance Academy in Middletown in the fall, two star-struck, dreaming ballerinas, twirling and leaping better than anyone else in our class. Linda and I saw each other three times a week and were inseparable during the ten-minute interludes before and after class, while we dressed and undressed in the moldy locker room. After that day I knew that Linda had come into my life to lead me to Danny.

It was a Wednesday in the middle of June. Class was over and Linda and I were on the sidewalk, waiting to be picked up and taken home. We stood in the sun in our pink tights and black leotards, little black ballet skirts wrapped around our waists, overstuffed dance bags at our feet. We felt so grown-up and important. When Linda's sister Carol arrived, two people got out of her car. Carol and a boy. I knew he must be the boy Carol was dating. Linda had told me about him, rolled her eyes and sniffed when she said that Carol was crazy about him, that she was doing it with him, that she wrote Carol Malloy over and over in decorative columns down the margins of the pages of her school notebooks. We giggled about it; ten years old, we were so clueless. Neither of us knew what it meant to be crazy about a boy.

He was wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, the shortened cuffs turned back high on his upper arms. He might have been chiseled from a block of marble, that's how hard and strong he looked. The spring sun had already darkened his fair skin to a light nutty brown and streaked his sandy hair with golden lights. Carol said, And this is Linda's friend, Tara. She's a terrific little dancer. Danny turned to smile at me and that's when I saw his blue eyes. I couldn't breathe. In the space of one heartbeat I fell in love. I wasn't a little girl anymore, even though I still looked like one, staring up at him mute and trembling. His smile broadened and a dimple appeared in his right cheek. He chucked me lightly under the chin, said, Hi Tara. I'll have to come to one of your recitals sometime. He kept smiling down at me until he'd pulled a little upward twitch from my frozen lips, a blink from my wide-open lids.

Stone Creek
A Novel
. Copyright © by Victoria Lustbader. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Patricia Gaffney

“An intensely romantic and heartfelt story of three fascinating people bound together by the inescapable ties of loss, love, and passion.”

Lisa Scottoline

“STONE CREEK is a beautiful book. Victoria Lustbader has crafted a well-written and highly readable story that also serves as a profoundly intelligent exploration of love.”

Elizabeth Noble

“My heart truly ached for the protagonists in this poignant, affecting story about love, loss, being lost and finding your way.”

Customer Reviews

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Stone Creek 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing- I thoroughly enjoyed this book. After reading one of the other reviews I have to say that I strongly disagree about the female character being tiresome. Some people are just "normal" and more emotional than others. Characters don't have to be these complex pieces- they only have to be roles in a story that touch your heart. This book, for me, did just that. Couldn't put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished the book. It was unbelieveable. I loved it. I could not put it down once I started to get into it. Like someone else wrote. The characters stay with you well after you finsh the book. It was great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The characters in this story touch not only your heart but your soul! As with Hidden, Lustbader's first book, the characters continue to live with you after you have finished the book. This is one to share with friends who love good books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. The author is great. The book has a believable story line not your typical happily ever after. Realistic. I'll be looking for the next one she writes.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Although she still believes that Paul is the one for her, Lily starts to doubt whether she still loves her husband. Lately she has found nothing brings her joy especially her lack of connection on any level with workaholic Paul.-------------- Needing time to find her equilibrium and decide what to do about her marriage, Lily leaves Paul and Manhattan to spend the summer at Stone Creek in Upstate New York while her spouse takes no time off from work. There she meets widower Danny and his sad five year old son Caleb. Although a decade older than Danny, they are attracted to one another, but it is Caleb who enters Lily¿s heart. Meanwhile Paul has an epiphany that Lily is unhappy, but he is assigned a critical case so he must choose.----------- In many ways the support cast Paul as a workaholic and Caleb as a grieving little boy steal the show from the lead pair Lily and Danny. However, overall they enhance an insightful character study that looks deep into child grief, spousal estrangement, and maternal biological clocks. Ultimately simple yet convoluted relationships as Lily¿s need for contentment changes four lives. Although some of the issues are repetitively overdone, fans of contemporary tales will appreciate Lily¿s search for happiness in STONE CREEK.-------- Harriet Klausner
tibobi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just finished Stone Creek, by Victoria Lustbader. I was lucky enough to get a copy of this from Book Club Girl, and I have been savoring it for several days now.One might consider this a love triangle of sorts, and in some ways it is..but it's so much more than that. Danny is struggling to maintain balance after the sudden loss of his wife, Tara. He is left with his 5-year-old son Caleb and the only family that he has close to him, includes his bitter, mother-in-law that blames him for her daughter's death. Danny is consumed by grief and wants desperately to learn how to live again. He is searching for something, but has no idea what. He remains in the small town of Stone Creek but is constantly reminded of what was. On a trip to the market, Danny's attention is drawn to a woman in the same aisle. There is something about her.. the way she carries herself, her expression while talking on her cell phone, that piques his interest. Lily, also notices him and although she is married for the better part of 10 years, she is also drawn to him in a way that she cannot explain. This is a story about love and loss. As you read the story, you feel as if you know these characters... as if they could be your friends or a close acquaintance. Their mannerisms, their preferences, everything about them become real. Lustbader does an excellent job of describing their inner most feelings and leaves you wanting more. Anyone that has experienced pain firsthand will appreciate many aspects of this novel. It is definitely a book that I will recommend.
caroline123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. Set in a small town in upstate New York, Lily comes to spend the summer alone at Stone Creek. She is married, but feels a deep disconnect with her husband who is a workaholic.The storyline is familiar but exceptional writing made it seem new and engrossing. Danny, a young widower, has been grieving deeply over his wife's death. His small son Caleb, age five, brings Danny and Lily together and they fall deeply in love. The depth and style of the writing keeps it from falling into the sentimental syrupy love story trap. This author is definitely one I would read again.
BekiLynn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book about l0ove and loss and finding your way to hope again. I read it at a time in my life when I was dealing with these issues. My son Caleb died just two years before and the 5 year old Caleb in this book tugged at my heart.Widower Danny struggles to raise his son Caleb alone. They both miss Danny's wife Tara completely...she was the love of Danny's life. They live in a small town where hurting Lily comes to spend the summer. Lily and her husband have grown apart. This is at least poartially due to Lily's desire for a child which her husband absolutely does not share. He thinks their life together should be enough and he doesn't understand why Lily would want a child after they both agreed in the beginning there would be no children. He feels betrayed by her change of heart and she feels betrayed because he cannot hear or understand her pain - the loss of a child she never had a chance to love.And so they spend a season apart, during which Lily grows closer and closer to Danny and Caleb, finding in their relationships what she so longs for with her husband. At the same time her husband is doing some exploring on his own and realizing how much he truly loves his wife. At the end of the day Lily realizes she truly loves him, too, and her itme with Danny was a nice interlude but niot something she can pursue. Danny and Caleb resign tehmselves to being grateful for Lily's friendship and the joy and love she brought to their lives, teaching them that they could laugh and love is a bitterwseet predictable story but I loved every word. Just the kind of book to read when you just want to get away from the world for awhile. Thanks so much for sending me this book, I have share it with many friends and will continue to do so.
PattyLouise on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Picture the ideal summer day...but it is raining and you have nothing to do...not because you are lazy but because you are very organized and all that you need to do is done for the day...this is the situation I was in when I picked up Stone Creek to read for my LibraryThing review...only hours later I was still reading it and couldn't put it down...this book has every detail needed to keep your interest...this book demands that you not stop reading it until the has great elements...a tragic death, a handsome struggling young father, an adorable child, an evil stepmother but in this case it is the monster in law of the angelic sexy father. Then you have to add to this mix an amazingly beautiful woman who wants a child desperately and is beginning to fall a bit out of love with her own domineering yet handsome as sin power hungry is a lovely story with a thought provoking ending...I have never read any of Victoria Lustbader's books before but this book made me a fan. She is more than just a romance writer...this book had depth and grace and beauty...and sadness...I found myself wailing at parts of it...I would declare it a must read....
boblinfortino on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book which I received from the Early Reviewers only because I needed to write a review (I was gently reminded to do so). The characters were likable but the story a bit tired. The plot was completely predictable and the ending less than satisfying. That having been said, I guess I liked it well enough to finish it...not something I feel compelled to do with a book I don't like.
pdebolt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stone Creek is well written. The descriptions of the characters and their environments made them very real. At times it read like what I would imagine a romance novel to be, but with substance. I am not certain that I found the premise of falling in love immediately to be credible, particularly since it happened twice to Lily. I would like to think that I am a romantic, but not to that extent. I also found it difficult to follow Paul's psychological problems and Lily's way of not confronting him with her feelings. Danny's grief and deep love for his son were palpable, although the quick bonding of a child that age to Lily, a woman he didn't know, is unusual. Overall, it was a good book - it wasn't filled with profound insights, but Victoria Lustbader is definitely a wordsmith.
colmena on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable but predictable summer read. Lustbader weaves the characters together very well and in a believable fashion but you yearn for a less predictable end.
BinnieBee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really did enjoy reading this book! I just finished it last night and could hardly put it down while I was reading it. My rating for the book would be better if I'd liked the ending better. I just felt that some things were wrapped up too quickly and neatly, and other things were sort of ignored and never really resolved. I know that is life, but I enjoy reading books that wrap things up casually, and end up resolved, unlike real life. That's why I read fiction, I suppose.
lasperschlager on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first word that came to mind after I finished Stone Creek by Victoria Lustbader is bittersweet. It's an introspective story told through the eyes of four main characters about love and loss and how to find your way when both happen to you. The story is compelling and the characters are believable but those looking for an upbeat beach read might want to choose something else.
suedutton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stone Creek by Victoria Lustbader explores the connections between a childless woman in her 40¿s, her husband, a recent widower, and his 5-year-old son. The book goes a little overboard with emotional themes: death, grief, parenthood, friendship, temptation, love. And as one might expect, there are lots of heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. This is a romance - not a lighthearted romp, but an emotional roller-coaster. This is not a book with a lot of action; rather, the conflicts in the book are about relationships and love.The story takes place in Stone Creek, a gentrified small town up the Hudson from New York City. Paul is a suave and successful attorney in New York City, and he and his wife, Lily, have a second home in Stone Creek. Lily is the focus of the story, as she spends a summer trying to figure out her relationship with here husband while building new friendships away from him in Stone Creek.The other main character is Danny, born and raised in Stone Creek, recently widowed and father to a young boy. Danny is every woman¿s dream: a handsome woodworker who is sensitive and loving. You can probably envision the characters already, and they are indeed sometimes a bit too perfect and a bit too predictable. But that is also one of the book¿s best features ¿ all of the characters are likeable and the author makes it difficult to ¿choose sides¿. This keeps you invested in the story as you wait to see how it all ends.I would recommend this book if you¿re looking for a good beach read with emotional punch. (Note #1 - I did find it amusing when choice of reading material is presented to help develop one of the characters . . . and he is commended for not reading "escapist drivel")(Note #2 - the book did not need Blinkie Floyd)
labelleaurore on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
'... which is worse - to lose something vital that you have had, or to have never had it at all...'Stone Creek is about love, passion, forgiving, emptiness in the heart, sex and parenthood. Mrs Lustbader had to have lived `Stone Creek¿ to write about it so honestly. This is a great book, one that didn't leave me indifferent to the solitude felt by a woman that has it all.
glassreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stone Creek starts out as an "everyday" sort of novel. Lustbader has all the typical characters that make for an interesting novel, but nothing spectacular. After a couple of chapters though, you realize this novel is far from 'everyday". You begin to feel the characters and their ups and downs, their struggles. Lily, one of the main characters, is so well written that you feel as though you personally know her when you've finished the book. Themes: Life/Death, being a single father, wanting a child when your mate doesn't, marriage, struggles with extended family, etc..
staffoa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A rather predictable, but enjoyable story of forbidden love. Childless Lilly longs not only for the unconditional love of a child of her own, but the love of her husband. Recently widowed Danny longs to have his deceased wife back while dealing with raising his son, Caleb. The book's ending (while not wanting to ruin the story for anyone) feels clipped and unresolved. You are drawn in hoping that Lilly and Danny find happiness and each resolves their lingering personal issues but are left questioning what direction they each go in. Perhaps it's the author's intent to draw us in, but to leave us assuming our own endings.
Rosereads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book from The LibraryThing Early Reviewers and must admit that I just got around to reading it. My mistake because I really loved this book! I was hooked from the very start and read it all yesterday and finished it this morning. I couldn't put it down. It deals with sadness, love and loss and the many complications that life gives you. I enjoyed reading it from different views of the 3 main characters. I wish the ending had not been quite so abrubt, but other than that I think it is a wonderful book that I will recommend.
aprilcamp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book Stone Creek is definetly worthy of a long weekend vacation read, but not a fabulous week at the beach read! The book although corny at times does prove to be entertaining. The main characters dealing with loss are at times predictable. However, the secondary characters, the husband and evil mother in law seem to be more interesting and compelling then our 2 stars. I recommend this book to someone looking for a sappy mindless yet entertaining read!!!
jhedlund on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stone Creek was one of the most moving, thoughtful books about love and loss that I have read in a long time. The familiar themes are there: love, marriage, parenthood, grief, generational relations, infidelity and the consequences of our life choices. Yet, these themes are not treated in the usual, familiar way with the neat predictable outcomes you often find in fiction of this genre. Instead, Lustbader pushes the boundaries of black-and-white thinking about right and wrong in the context of everyday relationships and lives. At its core is the notion that all people are flawed, but most are flawed in extremely complicated ways that are often juxtaposed with some of their most redeeming qualities.These concepts are explored through the lives of Lily and her husband Paul, who are finding serious chinks in the armour of their previously passionate and near-perfect marriage, Danny and his son Caleb grieving the loss of Danny's wife and Caleb's mother Tara, and Tara's mother Eve, who views her daughter's death through the eyes of her own demons. Their lives all become tied in ways that both condemn and redeem them. The book is really a character study of regular people with normal lives, normal problems and normal desires. This is the kind of book that makes you feel not quite so alone in the world. Life can be messy, complicated, confusing and yet still contain moments of pure magic and hope. Lustbader is a very lyrical writer with a gift for portraying intense sexual and emotional tension without falling into the trap of cliches. This book is a great summer/beach read.
cyncie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don't be discouraged by long, flowery sentences that distract from the story. If you can be patient, the slow pace becomes a magical ride. One main character reminds me of Catherine Anderson's wonderful male portrayals.It's a worthwhile read.
she_climber on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very well written story of true love, and soul mates. The characters were all very likeable (when they were supposed to be). This would be a good vacation/beach/light read. The only thing about the book that bothered me was Binkie Floyd - I felt myself cringe whenever he came up. I get that he was supposed to be sort of like the child that Lilly longed for - but it took away much of her credibility, and the story would have been better without him. I'll be passing this book on to my Mother in Law, who I think will also enjoy it. I'm very excited about my first Early Reviewers book and hope to do more again in the future.
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