About Far Beyond the Gates

Lucy McKay, a high school English teacher from Mississippi, is estranged from her divorced parents. Her father, Pratt McKay, is a professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill, and her mother a professor of art history at Duke. Pratt, who is ill with multiple sclerosis, invites Lucy to spend her summer vacation with him at his second home, which is in an expensive gated community 250 miles west of Chapel Hill in the Great Smoky Mountains. What Lucy does not know is that her father has been withholding a series of family secrets from her, and he is determined to reveal them over the summer. The visit begins with difficulty for Lucy, who is 35, also divorced, and unhappy. She and her father have trouble talking about his progressing illness, and she still has mixed feelings about the Pulitzer Prize her father won. Within the gated community, Lucy begins to make friends with some older residents, but her life changes when she meets a landscape contractor named Sean Crayton, who is working on properties in the neighborhood. Lucy is desperate for her father’s love, but shortly after she arrives, he reveals a shocking fact about his own years in college. As the days pass and Lucy begins to date Sean, she realizes how unstable her life has been and how desperately she needs the anchor of lasting love to understand what has happened to her. She must unravel the collapse of her own marriage and the failed ambitions of her ex-husband back in Oxford. She must also try to find a point of balance while dealing with her father. Told in a double-journal form by Lucy and her father, FAR BEYOND THE GATES is a story of love’s cost and necessity and the achingly hard job of making love work in a woman’s life.