Serious spoilers in this blog!
Maud and Tim appear to be a happily married couple with a perfect daughter Zoe, surrounded by loving family (on his side). Dangers are looming however. Tim is part of the Eton, Oxbridge tradition, Maud has a more humble background and fails to grasp the social codes of Tims environment. Pa’s drinking problem is never mentioned, mother’s failure to get in control of her household is laughed at, Tims choice to not start a career but dedicate his life to playing his guitar (a trustfond does come in handy) is never questioned. Everything is smothered in love and cash. Tims family is also extremely biassed. They frown upon Mauds choice to keep on working, she is a depraved woman for not wanting to take care of her child. Mauds parents, who have not exactly raised her lovingly, and who do not seem to care a lot about their child, do not make things any easier. Maud is an extremely private person and hard to grasp. She can get totally lost in her work and in her hobby, sailing. She is a loving mother who however does not show her love in an exuberant way, as is the way in Tims family. When Zoe is killed in an accident, Tims family turns against Maud. She is shunned and literally thrown out. They simply cannot understand that a person might close down through grieve; they fail to understand Maud and in doing so fail her. There is no compassion at all for the way Maud is coping with her numbing grief.
At a certain moment Maud decides to cross the ocean on her boat. No-one is looking after her, no-one cares. After a few blissfull weeks the boat is heavily damaged in a full-blown gale. After a few stressfull days Maud manages to reach land. At that point in the novel, Miller loses me. Maud ends up in a small village inhabited by children. Two of these children decide to exorcise Mauds grief by handling snakes (an obscure religious ritual from the deep south of the USA). The ritual works, Maud finally starts to cry. I was left wondering why Miller chose this far-fetched turn of events. I could have just as easily imagined Maud starting to cry on reaching land at last. The children do not add to the story, they distract. A pity, The Crossing is a beautiful novel about grief and about the necessity to try and understand those you love, to accept that a relationship is give and take.