Carrie La Seur’s finely crafted debut chronicles a woman’s complicated relationship with her hometown of Billings, her relatives who stayed behind and her ancestral history. La Seur’s graceful prose in “The Home Place” complements her incisive character studies of a family that has kept its problems behind closed doors.
Alma Terrebonne left Billings and the family’s “home place” to attend college, shortly after her parents were killed in a car accident that maimed her younger sister, Vicky. Now an attorney in Seattle, Alma only returns to Billings to attend family events.
Alma returns home when Vicky is found frozen to death. Alma plans to arrange Vicky’s funeral, but finds her family in disarray. And Alma’s plans are put on hold when it appears that Vicky’s death wasn’t an accident.
La Seur poignantly shows how characters are influenced by a sense of place, affecting their choices in life. The Montana land that makes up the home place represents all that the family was, what it will be and what it struggles with now. No one lives on the property, yet no one wants to sell the homestead. This home place is a refuge as well as a place of contention, paralleling the Terrebonnes’ lives.