Bracingly serious but without pretension, Mattison’s voice is like that of no one else writing today: the demands she makes...

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THE WEDDING OF THE TWO-HEADED WOMAN

A rigorous novel about a woman whose profession speaks volumes about her own inner life.

Again, Mattison (The Book Borrower, 1999, etc.) explores difficult moral and emotional dilemmas without resorting to easy resolutions. Here, 50-ish Daisy makes her living organizing other people’s clutter, but after years of independent and very sexually active singlehood, she’s recently added some complications to her own existence by marrying Pikko, a 60-ish landlord and apartment complex manager in New Haven with a vaguely mysterious past. Daisy is a bundle of contradictions: judgmental about herself as well as others, she nonetheless gathers around her an odd assortment of misfits; although deeply private, she occasionally hosts radio shows and organizes public meetings. While cleaning up his files, she becomes professionally and sexually involved with a Yale researcher named Gordon, who shows her the funny newspaper headline that titles the novel and becomes the subject of a play put on by an eccentric community theater group with which Daisy has also become involved. Pikko and Gordon, previously acquainted, share a mutual dislike highlighting their different approaches to life. Gordon prides himself on his lack of imagination, while Pikko lives by a strict set of values based on seeing beyond the surface facts. Daisy, who has trouble differentiating among independence, privacy, and secrecy, begins her affair with Gordon assuming it will not affect her marriage, but his cut-and-dried, logical approach to life (and to her) undermines her confidence. As she falls more and more under Gordon’s sway, Daisy shares a secret of Pikko’s with her lover without considering the serious consequences. Her moral certainty shaken, she finally gains emotional clarity. Prickly, complicated characters field a plot that includes an unsolved murder and sexual intrigue—but defies straightforward synopsis: it revolves around ways of viewing experience as much as the experience itself.

Bracingly serious but without pretension, Mattison’s voice is like that of no one else writing today: the demands she makes of her readers are difficult but exhilarating.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-621378-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2004

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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