Ansay, A. Manette Midnight Champagne

ISBN 13: 9780061120114

Midnight Champagne

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9780061120114: Midnight Champagne

April and Caleb have known each other for just three months so their Valentine's Day wedding (in a violent snowstorm) on the shores of Lake Michigan has both families - hers from Wisconsin, his from Tennessee - in uproar. Everyone has an opinion about their union, based on their own experiences. Meanwhile at the nearby Hideaway Lodge a domestic quarrel ends in tragedy. As April and Caleb's life together begins, death parts another man and woman in furious violence and the two stories gradually intersect, exposing tangled roots of vulnerability, passion, desire and desperation.

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A. Manette Ansay's novel about a wedding day 30 miles north of the Illinois state line has some of the earthy authenticity and knowing emotional detail of Jane Smiley. Yet the comic, melancholic voice in Midnight Champagne is very much her own. The scene is Valentine's Day at the Great Lakes Chapel and Hideaway Lodge, amid Wisconsin winter fields "the featureless white of amnesia." The place used to be a raunchy roadhouse where "room 33" was (and perhaps still is!) the code word for an assignation. A less libidinous lady ghost is also said to wander the halls. But the real nightmares here are of the everyday variety. April, 22 years old, a rebel artist, is abruptly marrying her new boyfriend from Nashville. Her family can't see why she dropped her all-too-steady ex-beau Barney, who sold Scotchgard products at the local Magic Carpet. Brooding Barney, invited to the wedding by mistake, can't see why either--though flashbacks illuminate the reason.

As the nuptials hit various snags (like a storm that knocks out the lights), April's family and friends reflect on vanishing marital passion, the presence of an ex-husband's pregnant young wife, the emotional mosh pit of the bride's tossed bouquet, and the kids'-eye view of it all. One does yearn for a more take-charge omniscient narrator to fuse the many characters' insightful musings--the novel's got a scattery feel. But it's a privilege to meet these people, visit this real-seeming place, and savor such flavorful sentences. --Tim Appelo

About the Author:

A. Manette Ansay is the author of the novels, Vinegar Hill, Sister, River Angel and the newly released Midnight Champagne, as well as a collection of stories, Read This and Tell Me What It Says. Her awards include the Nelson Algren Prize, the Great Lakes Book Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. She grew in rural Wisconsin and now lives in New York City, where she is at work on a memoir, Limbo, and another novel.

Other Avon books by this author:
Read This and Tell Me What It Says; June, 1998
Vinegar Hill; March, 1998
Sister; Fiction; June, 1997
River Angel; April 1999

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