Hurt oozes from every page of this story, more explicitly than in much of Revolutionary Road, although the characters are generally somewhat flimsier.
This is the story of two sisters who were 9 and 5 when their parents split up in 1930, after which they move around New York environs with their mother at regular intervals, always chasing “flair”, but without the means to achieve it. Sarah, the older one, grows up to lead a conventional life (early marriage and children, long term domesticity), while Emily goes to college and leads a more liberated life, even before the term “women’s lib” was coined.
Neither sister is close to the other or their mother; each is lonely in her own way, burdened by very different things, but unable to help themselves or each other to happiness. When circumstances lead to them actually sharing memories and feelings, instead of providing a release to bring them closer together, each shatters some of the other’s illusion (and indeed the reader’s). Hence, presumably, the title: whilst Easter makes one think of death and rebirth, the Easter Parade of the title refers to a falsely cheerful photograph.