Read Susan Breen's posts on the Penguin Blog.
A witty, honest, and hugely entertaining story for anyone who loves books, or has a difficult mother. And, let’s face it, that’s practically everybody . . .
On paper, Arabella Hicks seems more than qualified to teach her fiction class on the Upper West Side: she’s a writer herself; she’s passionate about books; she’s even named after the heroine in a Georgette Heyer novel.
On the other hand, she’s thirty-eight, single, and has been writing the same book for the last seven years. And she has been distracted recently: on the same day that Arabella teaches her class she also visits her mother in a nursing home outside the city. And every time they argue. Arabella wants the fighting to stop, but, as her mother puts it, “Just because we’re family, doesn’t mean we have to like each other.” When her class takes a surprising turn and her lessons start to spill over into her weekly visits, she suddenly finds she might be holding the key to her mother’s love and, dare she say it, her own inspiration. After all, as a lifelong lover of books, she knows the power of a good story.
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Susan Breen teaches fiction classes for Gotham Writers' Workshop in Manhattan. Her short stories have been published by a number of literary magazines, among them American Literary Review and North Dakota Quarterly. She is also a contributor to The Writer and Writers' Digest. She lives in Irvington, NY with her husband, children, two dogs and one cat.From Publishers Weekly:
The collision of truth and fiction can result in romance or even redemption—or so say the writing exercises and life lessons that make up Breen's debut novel. For years, Arabella Hicks's love life, like her writing life, has felt flat and fruitless. Still, the 38-year-old copy editor and part-time teacher can summon neither the drive to date nor the wherewithal to finish her novel, Courting Disaster, now seven years in the rewriting. She's anxious about her mother, Vera, whom she visits in a nursing home every Wednesday after teaching her writing class. Worried about Vera's Parkinson's disease—and still grieving her father's death—Arabella discovers her personal fears seeping into classroom discussions of plot, point of view and dialogue. One student, the well-spoken, well-to-do Chuck, begins a relationship with Arabella and thus installs himself into the mother-daughter drama. Breen, a writing instructor, sometimes overplays her hand, but she does inject a dose of originality into an otherwise familiar setup. (Feb.)
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