Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Sleepwalker

A mother's sleepwalking leads to her eerie disappearance and a family's search for her--and for answers.

Domestic situations that go awry are common in the psychological suspense novels of Chris Bohjalian. In The Sleepwalker, Bohjalian examines sleepwalking (or parasomnia) and the devastating impact it has on a Burlington, Vt., family.

Narrator Lianna Ahlberg deconstructs events that took place when she was a 21-year-old college senior during the autumn of 2000. When her father, Warren, a professor, went away to a conference, she tended to her 12-year-old sister, Paige, and her mother, Annalee, who had a history of sleepwalking that included benign destructive behaviors--especially when Warren was gone. Annalee had been undergoing treatment at a sleep clinic, and it had been four years since she took a nocturnal journey. Therefore, Lianna's caretaking was merely a precautionary measure. Believing her mother was past the "witching hour" (the first three hours of sleep) and out of harm's way, she dozed off, only to wake the next morning and discover Annalee missing. As the family rallies to search for her, a piece of her nightshirt is found near a riverbank, and the mystery deepens when a detective working the case seems privy to eerie, intimate details about Annalee.

Bohjalian (The Guest Room) has written an absorbing, cerebral story that probes a family's haunted emotional response to the mother's disappearance, and how each copes with confusion and grief. As they plumb the depths of Annalee's life, they uncover secrets that ultimately reveal a startling truth. 


Doubleday, $26.95 Hardcover, 978038558916, 304 pages
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (January 27, 2017), link HERE 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Last Girl Before Freeway

An intimate, enlightening and entertaining biography of comedic icon Joan Rivers.
Leslie Bennetts (The Feminine Mistake) explores the peaks and valleys in the life of Joan Rivers, the heralded, often outrageous comic who paved the way for other women in show business. Rivers was an "insatiable overachiever" who defied her parents' expectations for a traditional life and relentlessly pursued a comedy career despite a long list of naysayers who felt Rivers lacked talent. She wanted "to make people laugh so she could feel loved in return." With fearless courage, Rivers battled her way to the top, plummeted time and time again and forged comebacks on ever grander scales.

Drawing from interviews with friends, fellow comics, rivals and Rivers's own words, the narrative probes the comic's insecurities, her tastes in decorating and entertaining, her love life and often contentious marriage, her fiery relationship with her daughter, her unmerciful ribbing of Elizabeth Taylor, and her many plastic surgeries. Rivers's rift with Johnny Carson precipitated the devastating heartbreak of midlife catastrophes, which inspired her to reinvent herself completely. Insightful, entertaining anecdotes bolster--and often dispel--stories manufactured by Rivers herself, which furthered a 60-year career that included an Emmy and a Grammy Award, a Tony nomination, reality TV programs, bestselling books and a successful QVC clothing and jewelry line. Beyond building a billion-dollar brand, Rivers generously lent her support to AIDS patients and many others.
This fascinating, well-researched portrait of a comedic legend--a "vastly influential trailblazer" and "business powerhouse"--will appeal to Rivers's fans and also earn her new ones. 

Little,Brown & Company, $28.00 Hardcover, 9780316261302, 432 pages
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE


NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (November 15, 2016), link HERE 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Documentary: What is Philanthropy?

In the award-winning documentary, What is Philanthropy?, Salvatore Alaimo explores and analyzes the history and meaning of "giving"—what and why we give. Alaimo--a professor at the school of Public, Nonprofit and Health Administration at Grand Valley State University (Grand Rapids, Michigan)--sheds light and dispels myths surrounding the idea of charitable giving. The film demonstrates how philanthropy is not just about donating money, nor does it solely apply to the wealthy. In fact, in the USA, lower and middle-income earners actually give the most to charity as philanthropy is also about giving time, volunteering and advocating for social change.  

A wide-range of information is presented through Alaimo's lens depicting the role of how the federal government, the states, the private sector and individual citizens engage in philanthropy and how philanthropy touches everyday lives. The film offers a historical perspective of how, over the course of centuries, people--from Benjamin Franklin to Andrew Carnegie, among others--have pursued philanthropic causes. Interspersed throughout are interviews with learned scholars, academics, civil rights leaders, politicians and religious charity chairpersons from Judaic, Christian and Muslim backgrounds who offer their own insights, research and opinions about the role philanthropy has--and continues to--play in society at large. Also included are interviews with notables in current American culture who have used public platforms to promote larger philanthropic causes such as Estee Lauder and her work with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation; environmentalist Nell Newman--the daughter of Academy Award-winner, Paul Newman--and how her foundation, Newman's Own products, advocates for organic, sustainable agriculture; and NFL quarterback Alex Smith and how his foundation provides foster teens with resources and support as they transition into adulthood. 

Alaimo highlights those who work selflessly to promote causes such as Angel Flight, an organization where private pilots transport patients for medical care and treatments, and the efforts of people like Derreck Kayongo, a Uganda native, who started the Global Soap Project in the US, which collects used soap bars from American hotels and reprocesses them for shipment to impoverished nations such as Haiti, Uganda, Kenya and Swaziland. 

The most heartfelt aspects of the documentary showcase how smaller philanthropic foundations are often established after a person has suffered a deeply personal struggle and loss such as the Josie King Foundation, which advocates for a culture of patient medical safety. This foundation was established by the parents of Josie King in an effort to combat their personal grief after losing their 18-month-old to medical errors on February 22, 2001. Rounding out the film are moving stories of individuals who participate in giving via the likes of sewing circles and those who donate blood, platelets and even breast milk to charitable causes.

Along the way, Alaimo cleverly ties in clips from contemporary TV programs and movies to the theme of philanthropy. A portion of the film also depicts how social activism--including the pursuits of American Indians, the disabled, Gay Pride, Occupy Wall Street, voting rights, the death penalty and healthcare--also falls under the umbrella of philanthropy.  

What is Philanthropy? is well-balanced, lively and informative and is sure to stimulate lively debate, discussion and reflection for those--academics, students and social activists--who wish to more thoroughly understand the history and ideas of philanthropic "giving" in its many unique forms.

What is Philanthropy? a documentary (written/produced/directed) by Salvatore Alaimo
86 minutes; DVD $15.99; Blu-Ray $22.99
Distributed by Indiana University Presswww.iupress.indiana.edu )
Also available via Amazon.com - link HERE 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Mercury

The marriage of a couple on the cusp of middle age comes undone by a beautiful Thoroughbred horse.

Multi-layered domestic dramas are Margot Livesey's specialty. In her novel, Mercury, she again probes contradictions in human relationships, this time orbiting the often perilous abyss of middle age and casting her gaze on matters of perception in both literal and figurative terms.

Donald Stevenson is a staid, 39-year-old surgical ophthalmologist-turned-optometrist who lives and works in a Boston suburb. In humble, intimate prose that percolates with impending tragedy, Donald recalls his life and tells how a chasm developed between him and Viv, his wife of nine years. A restless and impulsive former mutual fund financier, Viv gave up her unfulfilling professional life to pursue her earlier life's passion for horses, co-managing a stable called Windy Hill. There she cares for Mercury, a five-year-old, dapple-gray Thoroughbred, and forges such a deep bond that she pins her affections, hopes and dreams of winning a horse-riding championship upon the horse. After Windy Hill sustains a mysterious break-in, Viv--whose myopic, first-person account is sandwiched between Donald's telling of events--conveys how she secretly took security matters into her own hands to keep her adored Mercury from danger. The consequences of this decision become far reaching, life changing and soul shattering.

Livesey (The Flight of Gemma Hardy) is a reflective, insightful writer. She offers a well-drawn supporting cast and skillfully unravels details that heighten the suspense and surprise of a sobering story. She delves into divisive aspects of deceit, desire, regret and ideals, and how the choices people make can affect and torment innocent lives in extraordinary ways. 

Harper, $26.99 Hardcover, 9780062437501, 336 pages
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE


NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (September 30, 2016), link HERE 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Dinner with Edward

A middle-aged writer and a 93-year-old widower, both facing changes, become friends through the satiating comfort of food.
Two lost souls bond over gourmet feasts in Dinner with Edward, a memoir by investigative journalist Isabel Vincent (Gilded Lily: Lily Safra). Isabel--a middle-aged newspaper reporter transplanted to New York City as her marriage comes undone--meets a dear friend for dinner. The friend's 95-year-old mother has recently died, and she fears her father, Edward, is giving up on life. She asks Isabel to check in on him occasionally, touting Edward's culinary prowess. Isabel's loneliness in a new city ultimately propels her to show up at Edward's apartment on Roosevelt Island, armed with a bottle of wine.
One meal turns into a weekly, culinary rendezvous where meticulous and debonair Edward, a self-trained cook, whips up savory and sweet feasts, paired perfectly with cocktails. "Edward was neither a snob nor an insufferable foodie. He just liked to do things properly." Over dinner, he conveys heartfelt details of his life, his creative pursuits and his enchanted marriage, ultimately becoming something of a teacher and protective father figure to Isabel. He offers wisdom and perspective as Isabel shares her adventures working for the New York Post, her crumbling marriage, difficulties in raising her daughter and her return to dating. 
Dinner with Edward emerges as a beautiful, passionate love story--wholly platonic--about two people whose lives are have undergone change, but who learn how to adapt and truly appreciate life again. Isabel Vincent's rich, perfectly paced narrative is served with as much wonder and gratitude as the deliciously conveyed indulgence of each satisfying, lingering meal. 

Dinner with Edward: A Story of Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent
Algonquin Books, $23.99 Hardcover, 9781616204228, 224 pages
Publication Date: May 24, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (June 3, 2016), link HERE 


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Paris for One and Other Stories

An entertaining novella and eight stories about women who are liberated--often unexpectedly--from the stagnancy of life.
In Paris for One and Other Stories, Jojo Moyes (One Plus One) presents a novella and eight short stories about lonely, often disillusioned women liberated from the stagnancy of life. 

In the title story, Nell--a 26-year-old Brit whose friends believe she "has never had a wild moment in her life"--plans a romantic, Parisian weekend getaway with her beau, only to be stood up at the 11th hour. Thus, Nell takes an uncharacteristic leap and sets off alone--launching a journey of self-discovery that leads to adventure and new love. 

The eight other tales deal with women at various ages and stages struggling to make sense of their choices and relationships. A woman finds a cell phone and revels in receiving intimate texts from a stranger. A lonely wife is lured by a slice of freedom amid the oppressiveness of marriage and the burdens of domesticity. A businesswoman's life is transformed when she literally slips into someone else's shoes. A pragmatic hard-working wife, struggling to make ends meet, longs for a new winter coat. A dinner party forces a once-adulterous wife to reconcile her feelings for an old flame. A surprise weekend getaway will either make or break a marriage. A media star's reputation comes undone via Twitter. A robbery in a jewelry store spices up the life of a salesgirl.

This entertaining collection highlights Moyes at her smart, clever best, as most of the stories end with an unexpected twist sure to satisfy readers looking for brief, pleasurable escapes.


Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, $25.00 Hardcover, 9780735221079, 288 pp
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, click HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (October 28, 2016), link HERE

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Storms: Book Three in the Winter Series

Winter Storms concludes a warm-hearted trilogy about a complicated Nantucket family whose loyalties and love run deep.

The Quinns of Nantucket reunite again in the final installment of the Winter Street series. As in Winter Street and Winter StrollElin Hilderbrand juggles an ensemble cast in a holiday setting. This time, however, the plot is structured amid four seasons, culminating at Christmas. 

Winter Storms launches in the spring. Family patriarch Kelley Quinn--a twice-married father of four adult children and the owner of the Winter Street Inn in Nantucket--is battling prostate cancer. He offers the inn for the wedding of his first wife, Margaret--a TV journalist and mother to three of the children--who has decided to remarry. Before the family convenes for the summer nuptials, Margaret and daughter Ava take a trip together, which complicates Ava's continued romantic woes. Patrick--the oldest child, having served prison time for insider trading--resumes life with his stressed, over-achieving wife, a closeted prescription drug addict. Kevin--the dithering middle child--opens a beachfront food venue that changes the dynamic with his long-term girlfriend. Throughout the seasons, Bart--a soldier stationed in Afghanistan, the son of Kelley and his second wife--remains missing in action. 

As each of the Quinn children comes to terms with personal dilemmas, Kelley reflects on his life. And when a nor'easter threatens to disrupt big celebratory plans for Christmas, the tightknit Quinns demonstrate what they mean to each other. Hilderbrand's trilogy reaches a well-resolved conclusion infused with a perfect mix of love, tears and joy.

**A quote from my review (above) was selected as a featured headline in an ad for this novel in The New York Times Book Review**
Little, Brown and Company, $26.00, Hardcover, 9780316261173, 256 pp
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, link HERE
NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (October 11, 2016), link HERE


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Today Will Be Different

A restless wife and mother tries to reboot her life only to have her quest go awry.

What does a restless, middle-aged wife and mother--a graphic artist and renowned animator of a legendary cartoon--have in common with a Catholic-turned-atheist hand surgeon to the stars; a makeup-wearing third grader named Timby, who got his name from an autocorrect spelling of the name Timothy; a frustrated poet who works at Costco; and a dog named Yo-Yo? They are the cast of quirky characters created by Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette?) in her comic third novel, Today Will Be Different. 

Semple sets Today Will Be Different in the supposed "least religious city in America," Seattle, where scatterbrained, middle-aged Eleanor Flood--resettled from New York--narrates her angst. She feels stalled in her life, unfulfilled and failing those she loves. She wakes one morning and vows, determinedly, to live in the moment and be her "best self." As on any other day, she makes breakfast for her doctor husband and drops Timby off at his progressive, politically correct elementary school before going to her weekly private poetry lesson. But Eleanor's noble quest to reinvigorate her life goes awry when, during the course of one day, she's faced with a string of mishaps--starting with Timby faking a sickness at school--which snowballs when she comes face-to-face with a former employee, an "ingratiating wannabe... sweaty ass-kisser" she fired 10 years earlier, who is now a famous, accomplished artist. 

With a strong narrative voice, fast pace and her signature wit, Semple cleverly spins another raucously funny story wound around deeper implications about the unexpected ways life teaches us to find meaning.

Little, Brown and Company, $27.00 Hardcover, 978-0316403436, 272 pp
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, click HERE
NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (October 18, 2016), link HERE

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Curt Menefee: 'A Self-help Book Wrapped in Sports Stories'

The Writer's Life


photo: Brian Paulette
Curt Menefee is the longtime host of Fox NFL Sunday and was a sports reporter for SportsDesk on the MSG Network and WNYW, the Fox flagship station in New York. Menefee grew up an ardent sports fan in Atlanta, loving the Braves, Falcons, Hawks and Flames. His grandmother Juanita took him to his very first professional sporting event--a Braves vs. Pirates game at old Fulton County Stadium. Menefee wanted to be a professional athlete, but a serious knee injury at the age of 15 sidelined him and set him on a course toward a career in sports media. In Losing Isn't Everything (see my review below), Menefee explores notable sports figures who wound up on the losing side of memorable moments in sports history.

Why a book on losing? 

I've always tried to find a different angle to tell a story, whether as a local reporter, calling games as a play-by-play announcer or in the studio at Fox. The one thing that virtually all sports contests have is a winning side and a losing side, and I've often wondered how "losing" affected someone who was at the top of his/her game as he/she went forward in life. Why were some able to bounce back from adversity, while others struggled? I'd had several chances to speak and interview people who'd lost monumental sporting events and saw that this would be a great topic to explore: the overall effects of being known for failure.

Why did you present the stories in book form rather than as a TV documentary?

First of all, these stories lend themselves to long-form storytelling--not only to provide the details of the events, but to give the necessary background and perspective that each subject employed in trying to cope with loss. Secondly, in a couple of cases, my contact with the athletes/coaches to ask for their participation in this project was the first time I'd ever spoken with them. I needed to build trust before getting them to truly open up. That was best achieved by sitting and talking in familiar settings with a recorder running, rather than lights, cameras and the formalities of video documentation that might make them feel more guarded in providing, often quite personal, details.

The stories in the book are so varied. 

As a sports fan, I was intrigued by so many classic moments that have occurred in arenas and on fields over the last 50 years--and not just in football. It really came down to which individual stories had lessons in them that all could learn from... and it was important to me that the subjects "got" what the project was about. I never wanted the book to be about "what happened and how did you lose," but rather more toward what can be learned from coming up short in life's big moments. 

How did you choose which subject to feature in each particular story?

First, I chose the sporting event that I wanted to spotlight... then I tried to find the person who was in the eye of the storm that changed history. For example, in the case of the '86 Red Sox, fielder Bill Buckner has been blamed--for 30 years--for losing a tough World Series. Yet, if you look at what actually happened, he never should have been involved. The Boston pitcher, Calvin Schiraldi, blew a one-run lead in the 8th inning of Game Six, and a two-run lead in the 10th, after getting two outs. Then, Schiraldi completely fell apart. The game should have been over before the ball ever rolled toward Buckner.... If Boston had won that game, and then Game Seven of the World Series, no one would even remember the Buckner play at all.

You also focus some stories on coaches and managers.

Yes, as I went along in gathering research, I felt it was important to include their perspectives as well--to find out what it was like when a coach or a manager made a decision that led to a loss. That's why Ron Washington, the manager of the Texas Rangers who was one strike away--twice--from winning the World Series, was important to include. As was Pete Carroll, coach of the Seattle Seahawks, whose call to throw a pass (that was intercepted), rather than try to run it in for a touchdown in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl in 2015, will be forever scrutinized--right or wrong.

Were your subjects eager to speak with you?

Some understood the goal of the book right away, others took a bit of cajoling. By the end of the initial interview--which I always tried to limit to two hours of face-to-face time--they all "got it." Obviously, some of the more personal stories involving struggles took some trust-building, and follow-ups were needed. In fact, each person granted us a minimum of three interviews, not to mention various e-mails and text messages to clear up points from time to time. 

What was the greatest challenge and/or reward in writing this book?

The greatest reward was believing that I'd made a contribution to the legacies of the sports figures featured in the book. History labeled them as "losers" simply because they didn't win a major sporting event. Yet, if you look at what some subjects have faced--the way their lives have been impacted by "failing," and how some have found a way to move forward--you know that they are anything but "losers." Each has dealt with some of the toughest "workplace" adversity, which all happened on a very big--and a very public--stage... recorded for all time. The biggest challenge was making sure I told the stories true to each unique circumstance, focusing on coping processes, while also tying in common themes.

The stories are steeped in fact and offer psychological insights.

Well, I have no psychology background, just a deep curiosity in human nature and behavior. I'm a grown up version of the little kid who constantly asks "why?" all the time.

Who do you hope reads this book? 

I'm most honored by those who've said that they aren't sports fans, but loved the book. I truly believe that this is a self-help book wrapped in sports stories. It's about how we all face the challenges of adversity in life and the battle to overcome those challenges. 

Did you learn anything surprising? 

The biggest surprise for me was how honest and open each participant was in sharing deeply personal details with me. Several of them went into some dark places after their public loss. For them to relive those details and share them with me for publication was an honor that leaves me forever indebted to them.

What's your favorite sport?

I love all sports, but the NFL and World Cup Soccer are my favorites. I've been to the championships of every major sport in the U.S., but nothing ever compares to the three World Cups I've attended--all as a fan. Nothing compares!

Does not having first-hand experience playing professional sports affect your broadcasting career? 

I believe it allows me to look at sports and ask the questions that everyday fans would ask if they could sit in my chair. I don't assume that folks at home automatically understand the terminology or circumstances that those around their respective sports take for granted. 

Care to offer a prediction of who will play in Super Bowl LI in 2017? 

Well, my preseason prediction was Arizona and Pittsburgh. I think I'm going to be off on the Arizona part. If I'm forced to right now, I'd say Seattle and Pittsburgh. A rematch of Super Bowl XL in 2006

NOTE: This interview is a reprint and is being published with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this Q&A as originally published on Shelf Awareness for Readers (11/11/16) click HERE

Losing Isn't Everything


Riveting stories that document pivotal career losses that changed the lives of athletes with applicable lessons for everyone!

Host of Fox NFL Sunday Curt Menefee and co-writer Michael Arkush (Rush!) present an in-depth examination of pivotal instants in the lives of 15 athletes, coaches and managers who have been on the losing side of memorable moments in sports.

Menefee and Arkush profile a range of familiar names and incidents: Boston Red Sox pitcher Calvin Schiraldi gave up the final game of the 1986 World Series to the New York Mets. Craig Ehlo of the Cleveland Cavaliers allowed Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls to score the winning shot in the '89 NBA playoffs. Lou Michaels, a placekicker from the Baltimore Colts, missed a field goal that cost the team the '69 Super Bowl. Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis made a split-second decision at the finish line of the 2006 Winter Olympics that banished her from gold. In the fourth round of the 1991 U.S. Open, Aaron Krickstein played his heart out against veteran tennis icon Jimmy Connors, but it wasn't enough. With one strike away from winning the 2011 World Series, Ron Washington, manager of the Texas Rangers, made a fateful decision. Underdog French golfer, Jean Van de Velde choked in the home stretch of the 1990 British Open. And runner Mary Decker literally fell short at the 1984 Olympic Games.

Every riveting, heartrending profile offers a well-chronicled history into events that led up to the dramatic moment that changed everything, along with a fascinating analysis of how each affected athlete sorted through complicated emotions and moved on--or didn't--after the fact.

Dey Street Books (Harper Collins), $26.99 Hardcover, 9780062440075, 272 pages
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
To Order this book on INDIEBOUND click HERE
NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (November 11, 2016 ), link HERE

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Murder at the Moonshine Inn

When Murder at the Moonshine Inn opens, readers learn that it's been eight years since Hazel Rose--a computer programmer turned romance novelist and super-sleuth--solved the murder of a disgruntled Richmond, Va. book club member who died after sipping cyanide-laced tea at a book club discussion.

In this second installment, Hazel goes undercover to find out who killed Roxanne Howard, a willful and high-powered executive, in the parking lot of a local redneck watering hole. Roxanne's grief-stricken sister enlists Hazel's help to find the killer as Roxanne's husband, Brad, is actually Hazel's distant cousin—and he also becomes the prime suspect in his wife's murder.

As Hazel gets drawn deeper into the mystery--and enlists the help of her shrewd, clever, mystery-loving book club cohorts--more complications ensue that involve Hazel's distant relatives and a long list of possible suspects ranging from Roxanne's rivals to former employees.

Hazel's fifth husband, a retired Richmond homicide detective who is a writer of true crime books, offers Hazel pertinent information into the investigation that aids her quest to flush out the murderer. What was the motive—love or money...or maybe revenge? When a second murder occurs, red herrings thwart Hazel's investigation until her own safety comes at risk. 

King (Murder at the Book Group) delivers another well-written, suspenseful cozy filled with a charming, quirky cast of book-loving characters and a plot that tightens before it ultimately unspools into a surprising conclusion.

KoehlerBooks, $16.95 Paperback, 9781633932814, 260 pages
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, click HERE

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Siracusa

An intimate, suspenseful story of two American couples--whose marriages are in crisis--vacationing in Sicily.
Delia Ephron (Sister Mother Husband Dog: Etc.) turns an idyllic Sicilian vacation upside-down in Siracusa, a novel about two sophisticated American couples in their 40s. Told through shifting timelines and four points of view, the story reveals the couples' shared history and the restlessness they are facing in their respective marriages. 

Lizzie and Michael, struggling writers, are a childless couple from New York. Lizzie is a long-form journalist, and Michael is a famous author and riveting raconteur who secretly wants out of the marriage, as he is in love with a younger woman. Finn and Taylor are from Maine. Their daughter, Snow, is tagging along on the trip; she is a beautiful but deeply repressed--and impressionable--10-year-old, with a condition called "Extreme Shyness Syndrome." Finn owns a restaurant and is resentful of Taylor, a cultured heiress who smothers their daughter with care and attention. Finn, too, harbors secret romantic longings of his own. Upping the ante is the fact that Lizzie and Finn were once an item. The two perpetually flirt with each other, provoking the ire of their spouses.

Ephron writes colorful repartee and backhanded insults, revealing the foursome's jealousies, lies and betrayals that further ignite when an unexpected visitor crashes their holiday. The atmospheric details of historic Sicily serve as a remarkable backdrop to the characters' personal conflicts, rendering Siracusa as a dark, psychologically astute story about the limits of marriage and friendship.

Blue Rider Press, $26.00 Hardcover, 9780399165214, 304 pages
Publication Date:  July 12, 2016
To order this book on INDIEBOUND, click HERE

NOTE: This review is a reprint and is being posted with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (July 22, 2016 ), link HERE