A Silicon Valley executive campaigns to be Pennsylvania’s first female senator while trying to hold her marriage together in Piazza's (co-author: Fitness Junkie, 2017, etc.) latest novel, set in a post-2016 political climate.
Charlotte Walsh, COO of one of the fastest-growing companies in the world, is running for senator in Pennsylvania. She's moved her family of five to the town where she and her husband grew up, Elk Hollow, where the struggling working-class economy is a world away from the luxury of their West Coast lives. Class becomes an issue. “Don’t say the word sabbatical,” her blunt, single-minded campaign manager interrupts her at their first meeting. “You sound elitist.” But gender becomes, predictably, the true crux of the campaign. A collapse sparks pregnancy rumors, Charlotte’s shoe choice becomes a major headline, and an offensive, sexist comment from a rival is accidentally spoken into a microphone. All of this plays out the way it would—and has—played out today. We see glimpses of what the public thinks of Charlotte through several fragments of “real” texts: an EMILY’s List endorsement, an MSNBC interview transcript, and several think pieces and Twitter threads. A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article explains helpfully that Pennsylvania has never elected a female governor or U.S. senator. Mostly, however, these texts are asides and attempts at verisimilitude that add no depth to the fast-paced plot. As Election Day nears, marked in a countdown at the beginning of each chapter, Charlotte’s marriage frays. Secrets are hinted at but not fully revealed to the reader until quite late. By then, they can only disappoint. There are, however, a few scenes and figures that resonate. Notably, Charlotte’s mentor, a retired female senator, has a complex and nuanced story arc. But mostly the tone is just short of satire and takes aim at everything.
A novel that asks whether a woman can "have it all" but that never even approaches an answer.