The Keep is an interesting sort of novel. The blurb provided by the jacket and short reviews focus on an event that occurs when two cousins are teenagers and how they come together later in life with different lives because of that event. After reading the book I feel like it isn't about the cousins or the event. It is about perception and the lengths that people will go to in order to be close to the people and things they love. It's also about choices.Egan chooses to begin the story by focusing on Danny, one of the cousins involved in the incident in his teen years. Danny has traveled to Europe in order to help his cousin Howard (incident participant number two) and to escape his own troubles back in New York. Danny feels guilt about the last time he and Howard were together and is unsure about the real intent of Howard's generous invite to assist in the renovation of a castle that will become a resort.
Howard has a problem with The Baroness that came as a sort of 'gift with purchase' when he bought the castle. The Baroness has run off other developers and she is convinced that she will outlast Howard and his crew of student laborers. Danny's encounter with her begins the play of what is real and what is not. It begins the fine line of fantasy and perception and what it means to different people.
Danny isn't our narrator but we see and hear what he does. I believed this to be a case of omniscient point of view. However, we soon meet our real narrator, Ray. He is a convict in a writing class in prison. Danny's story is his story. He begins reading his writing in class to impress Holly the writing teacher. Or so we are led to believe. (The reader is led to believe many things, most of which are intentional diversion and realizations become all the more surprising when the novel crescendos and the threads intertwine.)
Had I been unfettered by things such as Christmas celebrations and New Year's get-togethers I would have finished this novel as quickly as possible. I found it to be intriguing and smart while masquerading as something so much simpler. I give you as little information about Egan's work as possible because I feel I would be robbing you of some of the joy and speculation that comes with The Keep.