Books by William Norwich

MY MRS. BROWN by William Norwich
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 12, 2016

"Like its main character, appealing, sweet, old-fashioned—and, at heart, very sad."
An unassuming yet magnetic older woman becomes possessed by the notion of acquiring an Oscar de la Renta dress. Read full book review >
MOLLY AND THE MAGIC DRESS by William Norwich
CHILDREN'S
Released: Jan. 1, 2001

Norwich, the Entertaining Editor for the New York Times Magazine, and Miller, whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, combine their urbane sensibilities to create a rawther brittle, rawther long story about a wealthy little girl named Molly, who lives in a New York City apartment with her cat, Slim Enid, her ultrathin, ultrablonde, ultrachic mother, and their housekeeper. (Sound familiar? But this is in a co-op with an all-white living room, not the Plaza.) Molly spends much of her time transforming herself into exciting fantasies with the help of her well-worn magical dress and her active imagination. Forced to attend a family wedding ("Mingle, darling, mingle"), Molly packs along her rascally cat and her raggedy magical dress, resulting in a humorous climax when she gives her dress to a homeless woman who transforms herself into the Queen of England (or a cartoonish facsimile). This Dame Edna/Queen Elizabeth character adds some spark to the story, and she should have made her entrance earlier in the tale. Miller's edgy illustrations are stronger than the overly long narrative, with lots of visual humor and funny expressions, but his characterizations can't rescue the rambling plot, which is as leaden as they come. The intent seems to be a kinder, gentler Eloise for the 21st century, but there is no magic here. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >
LEARNING TO DRIVE by William Norwich
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: May 1, 1996

In Vogue columnist Norwich's lead-footed debut, a tabloid- ready tale of fatal mayhem on the way to the Department of Motor Vehicles is punctuated with slightly more affecting flashbacks to the not-yet-licensed driver's sad childhood. Julian Orr chronicles society parties for a New York daily and also works for a Vogue-like magazine called View. His therapist urges him to learn to drive so that he can go to Connecticut and visit his parents' graves. Julian enrolls in a driving school, but on the big morning of his road test, Hector, his instructor, calls to cancel. After a furious Julian threatens the manager of the school with a critical newspaper piece, Hector is ordered to show up. Bad idea. Hector arrives with his seven-year-old daughter in tow, and it's soon clear that he's on the verge of a breakdown. He insults Julian, punches him, and ultimately hits and kills an elderly woman. When the police stop the car, Hector starts shooting and is also killed. Julian saves Hector's daughter, whom he decides he wants to keep. In short order, Julian gets his license, doesn't get custody of the girl, and drives himself to the cemetery for his poignant graveside moment. This ghastly tale—told in a light satiric tone jarringly at odds with the tragic events described—is punctuated with vignettes from Julian's young life. We learn that toddler Julian slept in his kind father's bed while his mother slept in another room, that he was molested by a male counselor at the Enchanted Woods camp, and that he was orphaned during his adolescence. How does any of this relate to poor Hector? The connection between the two stories is as obscure as the relevance of the learning-to-drive metaphor. An uneasy blend of satire and mourning, unleavened by either society dish or genuine insight. Read full book review >