The story opens with Mandie's funeral; she died in Afghanistan during a tour of military duty. Grief over the loss of her cousin opens old wounds for Liz. She addresses her narrative of memories to a particular person, identified only as "you" until the denouement. Liz's story of her extended family centers around Mandie's charismatic and mentally unstable father and the event that caused him to abandon his family when the girls were in their mid-teens. Teo, a child of one of the Mexican fieldworkers who came to the farm every year, is also part of the story. He and Liz were the same age and they both felt somewhat apart from the other kids.
It is this quality of aloofness or reservedness that is a distinguishing mark in Jane Urquart's fiction. Another reader told me she found Urquart cold, but I am fascinated by characters like Liz who protects her heart so fiercely.
Sanctuary Line is a quiet story with vivid characters and an excellent evocation of time and place. It is on the long list for the Giller Prize. Readalikes: The Lost Garden by Helen Humphreys and Crow Lake by Mary Lawson.