Books by Liz Newall

Released: Nov. 1, 1994

A restless woman's eventful passage into middle age serves as the catalyst for a quirky first novel that sympathetically explores the small (and not so small) comedies and dramas of everyday family life. After 20 years of marriage, Sarah Crawford Brighton, convinced that she must ``do something crazy to feel alive,'' leaves her husband, Jack, and hits the road with her horse and a traveling veterinarian. Lured back to her hometown by her mother's sudden illness and death, Sarah settles back in with Jack—temporarily, she says to herself—and rejoins the circle of relatives who surround her with the small family rituals that, on the surface at least, make it seem like she never left. Yet, as the novel's multiple narrators make clear, there are many more ``entanglements and separations'' in their lives than any one of them can recognize and understand. Jack, a car salesman who sorts things out pragmatically, would have a much easier time if only his favorite publication, Consumer Guide, would do an article on wives. Andrew Webster, Sarah's stuffy brother-in-law from up north, filters people and events through his psychology doctorate as he works his way toward tenure. Kate McMahan, Sarah's aunt, seems rooted in her solitary life on the family farm, yet she recognizes the restlessness ingrained in Crawford women and comes to think seriously about her own independence. Donna, Sarah's younger sister and a former beauty queen determinedly turned cornerstone of domesticity, is sure that all she needs is a little ``make-over,'' like the ones done for women in glossy magazines. For her part, Sarah gradually realizes that there is more than one kind of restlessness, and that ``looking to see'' is not the same as ``looking to find.'' A clever slice-of-life novel with the eccentric so firmly rooted in the mundane that it could almost be real. Read full book review >