Jenny McPhee's critically acclaimed debut, The Center of Things, was hailed by O, The Oprah Magazine as "a smart novel of love, lust, and life's miraculous randomness." The New York Times Book Review called it "an engaging novel about big ideas." In her delightful new novel, No Ordinary Matter, McPhee turns her razor-sharp pen on the offbeat worlds of soap operas, mistaken identities, private detectives, and sibling rivalries as she deftly navigates the territory between coincidence and fate.
Veronica Moore writes for a daytime drama while secretly composing a musical and has fallen in love with Alex Drake, who plays a neurologist on her show. Lillian Moore is a neurologist who is pregnant from a one-night stand. Veronica and Lillian have hired Brian Byrd, P. I., to uncover the mystery surrounding their father's death. Before they know it, unexpected answers come crawling out of the woodwork. The sisters meet monthly at the Hungarian Pastry Shop, where they entangle their futures and unravel their pasts, setting the stage for a series of revelations that will change the course of everyone's lives. This fast-paced narrative is full of situations worthy of the steamiest of soaps, and yet McPhee renders this fantastical world delightfully ordinary.
No Ordinary Matter is as addictive as a soap opera, as high-kicking as a Broadway show, as insightful as an MRI, and as satisfying as a buttery croissant. With its sly charm and witty sophistication, McPhee's new novel is another sparkling gem from a rising literary star.
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Jenny McPhee is the author of The Center of Things, a novel, and the coauthor of Girls: Ordinary Girls and Their Extraordinary Pursuits. She is the translator of Paolo Maurensig's Canone Inverso and of Crossing the Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals, including Glimmer Train, Zoetrope, and Brooklyn Review, and her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, and Bookforum, among others. She is on the board of the Bronx Academy of Letters.From Publishers Weekly:
McPhee (The Center of Things) throws more curveballs than a big league pitcher in this frenetic New York romantic comedy. As the novel begins, Veronica Moore, an up-and-coming soap opera and musical writer, is grappling with the news that her sister, Lillian, a tall, stunning blond neurologist, has engineered her own pregnancy. Alex Drake, the out-of-work actor Lillian seduced, has no idea that he's about to become a father. At the same time, Lillian and Veronica hire Bryan Byrd, a private investigator and jazz musician, in an attempt to uncover secrets that their own father may have been keeping before he died 25 years earlier. When Veronica discovers that the newest actor to grace the set of the show she writes for, Ordinary Matters, is none other than Alex Drake, she is determined to find out if he is the same man who unsuspectingly impregnated her sister. An ill-advised horse-drawn carriage ride turns into a full-blown romance—and Veronica can't find the courage to tell Lillian. Meanwhile, the sisters are being tailed by two detectives, who indirectly uncover secrets in the Moore gene pool that make Ordinary Matters look like classic drama. "Soap operas," Veronica decides, are "even more implausible than musicals," though apparently everyday life can be the most preposterous of all. McPhee's latest is sure to serve as a guilty pleasure for many this summer.
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