A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick.
This book is set in northern Wisconsin, but I felt as I read it that it should have been set in snow-bound Russia. It had the feel of Russian Lit, with a toss of Wuthering Heights and a small pinch of East of Eden for American flair.
It is beautifully written, and does put a twist on the whole genre of bleak tragedy that makes it stand out. What is the book about? Well, I will just give you a quote from the book:
It was just a story of how the bitter cold gets into your bones and never leaves you, of how the memories get into your heart and never leave you alone, of the pain the bitterness of what happens to you when you're small and have no defenses but still know evil when it happens, of secrets about evil you have no one to tell, of the life you live in secret, knowing your own pain and the pain of others but helpless to do anything other than the things you do, and the end it all comes to.
Yes, it is a story of a father who needs forgiveness, and a son who hates him, and a mail order wife with a bottle of arsenic in her purse. It is a story of bleak and cold winter.