This is one of my school books, and I finished it about an hour ago. I'd like to mention that I don't consider this to be a review of it -- it's just my random (or not so random) thoughts about the book. The way this is written reflects the randomness of my thoughts. I haven't had time to really gather them yet. :)
To tell the truth, I'm not sure if I would have stuck with the book if it weren't assigned for school. To begin with I was wondering "What the heck IS this about??" "What's the plot? I don't see a plot." And, "What the heck does the title Visitation have to do with anything?" But now I'm glad that I've read it. And I now understand the reason for my confusion: Visitation isn't exactly your ordinary book.
I think it might be said that this book shows the relationship between nature and people. Its story spans across several generations. It tells the story of a house that was built by a lake, the stories of the families that lived in the house, the story of the land.
I also think that the cover for the book is excellent. You see the lake and the trees, and the falling leaves which indicate change. Also you see the reflection of a house in the lake, though there is no lake on the land. I'm still trying to figure out what to make of this particular detail.
This novel is historical fiction, but I also have to wonder if there is another genre that it would fit into.
I think it's interesting how the story came full circle. I saw where it was going in maybe the last twenty pages of the book -- in the epilogue the house was torn down, and the land was untended by any gardener. The land returned to being wild, as it had been before people tended it and turned it into their home. I guess this emphasizes that us humans are only "dust in the wind," and not permanent. Our generations come and go, but the land remains, and is still there when we're gone.
And also, now that I think about it...there is one central character, who is almost as constant as the land: the gardener. I don't think we ever learn his name. (If someone has read Visitation and remembers that he does have a name, please comment!) And unlike the families that come and go in the house that has been built, we never learn his own story. We just know that he was there to begin with. And then he disappears mysteriously. I think it's safe to say that he dies, but his body is never found.
The two central characters -- the land, which does not speak for itself. And the gardener, whose story we don't know. Hmm.