Medoff’s talent for characterization is evident in her latest novel, a richly layered tale about that complicated thing called family.
Eliot Gordon is Everywoman—a working mother of three, she has complicated relationships and just a few minutes to spare at the end of the day. She dotes on her girls, 4-year-old Hailey and her stepdaughters, 7-year-old Gail and teenager Charlotte. She adores Grant (though they’re not married and no one’s sure why). And she is an active member of the Gordon Girls, consisting of youngest sister, Maggie, the comically imperious middle sister, Sylvia, and their mother, a novelist who spent their childhood hunched over a typewriter. It’s a good life except for the occasional intrusion of the Sculptress, Eliot’s code name for Grant’s first wife, Beth, a self-absorbed painter (she specializes in vagina self-portraits) who barely has time for Gail and Charlotte and expects Grant to support her art. And then Finn Montgomery appears. One of those impossibly beautiful men, Finn was Eliot’s great love in college until he took a job in New York and never looked back. Now back in Atlanta (with a polished wife and daughter), Finn bumps into Eliot and all of her memories of heartbreak and devotion come rushing back. They begin a flirtation, secret calls and meetings (we see Eliot helplessly tumbling into almost adultery) and then Finn takes it further, confessing that Eliot is his true love. To Medoff’s credit, the plot takes a sharp turn away from what could have been a conventional storyline; instead, at the beach and on the phone with Finn, Eliot turns for a moment, and when she turns back, both Hailey and Gail are drowning in the stormy Atlantic. Whom she chooses to save, and the consequences of her flirtation devastate everything she has. Heavy with guilt, Eliot tries to rebuild love.
Medoff’s fully realized novel beautifully explores the most important relationships we create: as parent, as sibling, as spouse.