Books by Patricia O’Brien

HARRIET AND ISABELLA by Patricia O’Brien
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 1, 2008

"A winning piece of historical fiction."
An engaging, revelatory account of the trial of the century—the 19th century—following charges of adultery against Henry Ward Beecher. Read full book review >
GOOD INTENTIONS by Patricia O’Brien
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 30, 1997

Political journalist O'Brien takes on too much too fast in a third novel (after The Ladies' Lunch, 1994, etc.) that's part family drama, part romance, part mystery, with the whole, unfortunately, proving less than the sum of its many parts. Rachel Snow is an attractive but lonely middle-aged Chicago radio talk-show host with a troubled past. Her father may or may not have committed suicide (he was struck by a train) years ago. Her divorce was complicated by her own adultery with a charismatic reporter. Her mother who, like her father, has always preferred silence to confession, fought breast cancer without even telling Rachel, and is now in financial trouble down in Miami. And teenaged daughter Edie is torn between her parents, in love with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, and struggling with garden-variety adolescent turmoil besides. When Rachel buys and renovates her childhood home, it seems as though she's on the cusp of coming to terms with her history, and when her mother and Edie move into the house with her, life does indeed seem to be taking a turn for the better. Meanwhile, though, the ratings aren't great at her show- -until, that is, a mysterious figure starts calling in, claiming to be the notorious serial killer The Truthseeker. Then all hell breaks loose: former lover Amos, the dashing reporter, reemerges; Jim, Rachel's station manager, reveals that he's infatuated with her; and ex-husband Matt tells her (meaningfully) that his new marriage is on the rocks. Through it all, Rachel struggles to keep a step ahead of The Truthseeker, who appears to be threatening her family's safety. O'Brien knows how to create vivid characters and write believable dialogue. But for the poor, confused reader, Rachel's romantic complications and troubles are diluted by their sheer number. Read full book review >
THE LADIES' LUNCH by Patricia O’Brien
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Aug. 1, 1994

Political journalist turned novelist O'Brien (The Candidate's Wife, 1992) again pens a DC-based soap opera, this one about the mysterious death of a powerful Washington woman and its effect on her four friends. The five are known as the Ladies' Lunch, a group that meets monthly for networking, gossip, and mutual support. Judge Sara Webber has devoted everything to a stellar career that brings her a Supreme Court nomination. Single mother Maggie Steadman is struggling to pay the mortgage after leaving her job at the Post when a senator she ``outed'' committed suicide. Congresswoman Carol Lundgreen is discovering the effects of putting her job before her family, and the District's hottest caterer, Leona Maccoby, has a husband who is more interested in power than in her. Faith Paige was press secretary to the late President Goodspeed and then to newly inaugurated President Sayles. When her body is pulled from the Potomac, the new administration is eager to label her death a suicide. Faith's friends try to come to private terms with their loss amid a media frenzy, but it changes their lives in very public ways. Maggie is offered a six-figure book contract that will pay the bills but compromise her friends. Carol's husband leaves, and Leona discovers disturbing facts about her spouse's business dealings with Faith. It is Sara, however, who pays the biggest price, when Chief of Staff Jack Preston, desperate to keep Faith's affair with Sayles hidden, threatens her Supreme Court nomination with secrets about her father's medical practice. These influential women don't step down that easily, however. Savvy use of the media and an emotional Senate nomination hearing finally bring them justice and, more important, solidify their friendship. O'Brien weakens her effort by going over the edge into melodrama, but she manages to be both topical and engrossing by covering everything from sexual harassment to managed health care and euthanasia. Read full book review >
THE CANDIDATE'S WIFE by Patricia O’Brien
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

Here's exactly the first novel you might expect from a reporter who covered Gary Hart and Geraldine Ferraro on the campaign trail and in her spare time wrote a nonfiction book called Staying Together: Marriages That Work (1976). Put those two elements together and you've got this story of an intolerably put- upon presidential candidate's wife who ends up humming a very familiar tune: ``Stand By Your Man.'' Kate Goodspeed is 45 when her husband, Luke, wins the top spot on the Democratic ticket, an event that leaves her ``flat-out dazzled,'' but still troubled on some deeper level over the fact that Luke's hotshot election advisor, Claire Lorenzo, insists she wear her blue linen instead of her favorite yellow frock at the victory bash. Clearly, Kate's compromising herself to get into the Oval Office (where, we're informed, ``a hell of a lot of history had taken place''). But it gets harder and harder to compromise when: her 15-year-old daughter gets pregnant and must have a secret abortion (Luke's too namby-pamby to take a firm position on the volatile issue); her adolescent son grows hostile; and, last but not least, Kate finds out that Luke's been spending his nights on the road with Claire. But Kate's too tough a cookie to crumble, so in order to keep her daughter's abortion out of the press, she admits that she had one herself 20 years ago—an act of such gutsiness that it wins her a Newsweek cover, the confidence to pull her husband's leash, and First Ladyhood. It's all very topical, of course, which is fun. But Kate comes up short as a character: it's hard to figure out why anyone would put up with so much baloney for a chance to repaper the White House walls. Read full book review >